THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is taking the Zimbabwe government to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Gambia over the closure of the Daily
News and the Daily News on Sunday.
The case will be heard in the first instance on preliminary issues of admissibility during the forthcoming African Commission Session scheduled for the last week of November in Dakar, Senegal.
Professor Michelo Hansungule of the Centre for Human Rights in the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, said lawyers would argue the case before the commissioners.
“Cases from national jurisdictions of states parties to the African Charter brought to the African Commission are not appeals but in the nature of matters of first instance,” Hansungule said. “Submissions on admissibility have already been drafted and filed with the commission. During its session, we will be arguing the case viva voce before the commissioners,” he said.
The Daily News and Daily News on Sunday were closed last year following a Supreme Court ruling on September 11 that they could not continue publishing without accreditation by the Media and Information Commission.
Hansungule said their arguments regarding admissibility had already been submitted to the African Commission Secretariat.
“This constitutes the first stage under the procedure governing the operations of the African Commission. After the commission has made a ruling on the matter, we will be called upon to submit on merits,” he said.
“It is then that we shall submit our arguments on the merits of our complaint. Nevertheless, we have already finished preparing the merits of the complaint and are ready to submit anytime we are required.”
He said they had taken the issue to the commission since his clients were strong believers in the fundamental right of every Zimbabwean citizen to have his or her dispute heard and determined by an independent judiciary. He said the appellants also believed judges and lawyers should be allowed to practise freely without interference.
“We strongly believe that our clients (ANZ) were denied their basic and fundamental right to have their dispute with the executive branch of government in Zimbabwe concerning the constitutionality of the Aippa law heard and determined by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe sitting as a Constitutional Court,” he said.
“It is our strong contention that the decision of the Constitutional Court to deny our clients the right to be heard on the grounds that they had ‘dirty hands’ whilst at the same time entertaining the state evidently clashed in the face of the golden principle of equality of treatment before the law.”