July 18, 2012

SADC tribunal protocol unsigned

SWAPO Party MP Calle Schlettwein said that only five Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states have signed the protocol on the SADC Tribunal, which is one of the reasons for the suspension of the regional court and the review process now under way. The protocol, he explained, was integrated into the SADC Treaty. "But the protocol itself was not ratified," he said. He added that a principal problem with the SADC Tribunal is that as an appeal instrument, national constitutions can be undone, which is also what the review process must address.

Meanwhile, legal representatives of the Swissbourgh Group and Josias van Zyl, who instituted two cases before the Tribunal before its dissolution, have written a letter to SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomo, the SADC head of legal affairs unit, and SADC heads of state, arguing that the dissolution was made in bad faith. They want SADC to accept liability for N$8 million that was incurred by the Swissbourgh Group in the preparation, institution and prosecution of the applications. They said SADC has become liable for all damages suffered by their clients at the hands of the Kingdom of Lesotho, which run into the billions.

The law firm argued that the decision would effectively remove from the jurisdiction of any future Tribunal the right to hear cases brought by persons other than member states. The Swissbourgh Group maintains that the decision to suspend the Tribunal was illegal, and constitutes a violation of international law and a denial of justice. The Group now intends to engage the complaints procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council. (The Namibian)

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