David meets the Queen

Professor David McQuoid-Mason, Chair of Street Law SA, recently met the Queen at a Reception for Heads of Commonwealth Organisations at St. James Palace, London on 27 October 2015, prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta. The function was held by the Queen to thank the Commonwealth organisations for supporting her and the Commonwealth.

For the occasion McQuoid-Mason wore what he calls his ‘Mandela jacket’ designed by Lindiwe Khuzwayo of Durban, which was in colourful contrast to the dark suits worn by the other male participants and attracted the eye of the Queen.

Queen's Reception Electronic Image 151027_CRCHOGMR_SID_1263

Court blocks sex register listing

The recent court appearance of a 14-year-old boy who raped younger boys and stabbed a 12-year-old girl has put the spotlight on whether child offenders should be treated differently to adults. The case highlights the dilemma of weighing up the clashing rights of child sex offenders and their victims. The case came to the Cape Town High Court earlier this year on review from the magistrate’s court, which had found the boy guilty of raping three boys, aged six and seven, and of attacking the girl.

At the centre of the matter was whether he should be listed in the national register of sexual offenders. Two weeks ago, the high court found that the law prescribing that all sexual offenders be registered was unconstitutional.

A section of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act prohibits a court from taking into account whether the offence involved kissing or rape, and whether there was consent, and does not allow offenders to make representations as to why they should not be registered. The court gave parliament 18 months in which to amend the section and send it to the Constitutional Court for ratification. It said including a child’s name in the register had “far-reaching implications”, including stigmatisation, and affected the child’s rights to privacy and dignity.

Morgan Courtenay, a lawyer for the Centre for Child Law, which joined the case as an interested party, said one of the “severe” effects of being registered was that it limited employment opportunities. People listed on the register would not be allowed to work in the same environment as children, and in certain instances offenders have to disclose their convictions to employers. They might not be allowed to adopt children.

Though the aim of the register is to protect children and the mentally disabled from sex predators, Courtenay said children should not be treated like adults because they were still developing.

“Generally, they do not understand the consequences of their actions and should be treated differently to adults, who can differentiate between right and wrong,” he said, suggesting that the register be limited to adults.

Kenneth Klopper, the boy’s lawyer, agreed. He argued that children were not mentally or physically “on a par” with adults, which is why the law makes special provision for them, with a focus on rehabilitation.

Cecil Tsegarie, who represented Justice Minister Jeff Radebe , argued that the register should include all sex offenders.

Tsegarie said this extended to the boy because he had “readily admitted that he is a sexual predator of children in stating in his plea that he lusts for sex with children”.

But the high court found that the listing of a child in the register should be considered case by case.

Justice Department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said there were over 5000 offenders on the register, most of them adults.

Until the Constitutional Court rules, no child sex offender will be listed, Tsegarie said.

Click here for full Report: IVAN JOHANNES VS STATE High Crt Judgmnt

Cloud of secrecy descending on SA – study

A study by the advocacy group Right2Know has identified an increase in the use of apartheid-era security laws to keep information out of the public domain. There are also more refusals by public and private organisations to provide requested information and a growing trend towards withholding the details of party-political funding, says a Business Day report.

Among the trends noted in the 2013 Secret State of the Nation Report is a 54% rise in the use of the National Key Points Act to keep data secret and a more than 60% refusal rate for Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) requests. Critically, notes Business Day, this comes ahead of the possible enactment of the Protection of State Information Bill which, if approved in its current form, is likely to see an increase in data being classified as secret. Referring to the National Key Points Act, the report says the number of buildings being declared key points is rising. Using SAPS data, it says that in the last five years the number of key points has risen by 54%, although there is no published list.

http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/2013/02/19/report-shows-growing-use-of-apartheid-era-security-laws

UN General Assembly Enacts Global Standards on Access to Legal Aid

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted the world’s first international instrument dedicated to the provision of legal aid. The new UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems, approved on December 20, are groundbreaking: they represent some of the most progressive principles and guidelines on legal aid, that are grounded on the  emerging best practices and evolving jurisprudential and normative developments around the world.

The important components recognized include:

  • Prompt access to effective legal aid from the outset of police custody, through all stages of the criminal justice process;
  • A right to be informed about a right to legal aid and other procedural safeguards from the moment of deprivation of liberty and before any questioning, including of the right to remain silent;
  • The involvement of a range of legal aid providers including lawyers, paralegals, civil society group, and university legal clinicians and; and
  • The development of a nationwide legal aid system with designated legal aid management authorities that are sufficiently staffed and resourced and are independent from undue political pressure to ensure effective and quality legal aid services delivery.

NOTE: The Street Law South Africa founder and Chairman of the Board, Prof. David McQuoid-Mason, was involved in drafting the resolution discussed in this post as well as the Lilongwe Declaration on which it was based.

UN, US sanctions DR Congo rebel over atrocities

As written by the Daily Nation

The United Nations and United States on Tuesday ordered sanctions against the head of a rebel group accused of atrocities as it seized territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UN ordered a travel ban and assets freeze against Sultani Makenga, head of the M23 rebels who have been accused of killing and raping civilians as they carve out a mini-state in the mineral-rich east of the African country.

The US government ordered the seizure of any Makenga assets in the United States and banned Americans from dealing with the 38-year-old former DR Congo army colonel. Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations, accused Makenga of “heinous atrocities”.

The M23 rebellion erupted in March this year when mutineers broke away from the army and seized a number of towns near the Nord-Kivu provincial capital of Goma, close to the border with Rwanda and Uganda.

UN experts have accused both neighbouring governments of aiding the rebels.

Makenga is behind “killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction, and forced displacement,” said a statement by the UN sanctions committee for DR Congo.

“Under the command of Sultani Makenga, M23 has carried out extensive atrocities against the civilian population,” including the rapes of women and children aged as young as eight, the statement added.

“New US and UN sanctions on Sultani Makenga show the world will not stand for heinous atrocities committed on his orders by the M23,” Rice said on Twitter.

“These new sanctions send an important message to other perpetrators of atrocities in DRC: accountability,” she added.

“Makenga is responsible for extensive atrocities against the population in the DRC,” said Adam Szubin, head of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The UN statement said M23 has received arms and other material “in violation of measures taken by the DRC to implement the arms embargo” against the country.

The statement did not say where the arms had come from. Rwanda and Uganda have strongly denied any link to M23 and have condemned a report by UN experts which alleged their backing of the rebels.

By AFP (14 November 2012)