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Tribunal ruling won't be recognised - Patel
January 27, 2010
In the case
in the Zimbabwe High Court, Justice Patel delivered judgment
yesterday, 26 January. In his judgment he was "more than satisfied"
that the SADC Tribunal had been constituted properly and had jurisdiction
within the SADC states, including Zimbabwe, although he was "not
entirely persuaded" that the Tribunal could "entertain
and adjudicate alleged violations of human rights which might be
committed by member states against their own nationals."
SADC Tribunal Rights
Watch finds it hard to understand the reasoning here where the broad
principles of the SADC Treaty on which the Tribunal finds its guiding
principles as being "human rights, democracy and the rule
of law," are very specific.
goes on to say that despite accepting the Tribunal's rulings, the
said individual rulings should be "subject to a consideration
of the facts of each individual case." The Constitution
of Zimbabwe is quoted which says that "the Constitution
is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and if any other law is inconsistent
with this Constitution, that other law shall, to the extent of the
inconsistency, be void."
Justice Patel says it
is contrary to public policy in Zimbabwe to go against the Constitution.
SADC Tribunal Rights Watch believes that by saying this, he is opening
the door wide to allow the Bill of Rights to be trampled by any
dictatorship that may spring up to change constitutions in conformity
with dictatorial demands of the executive.
The judge goes on to
state that the land reform program "is quintessentially a
matter of public policy in Zimbabwe, conceived well before the country
attained its sovereign independence." He says that "the
greater public good must prevail."
Justice Patel concludes
by saying that there is an "overwhelmingly negative impact
of the Tribunal's decision on domestic law and agrarian reform
in Zimbabwe, and not withstanding the international obligations
of the Government I am deeply satisfied that the registration and
consequent enforcement of that judgment would be fundamentally contrary
to the public policy of this country."
He dismissed the matter
with no order as to costs.
SADC Tribunal Rights
Watch believes that it is a sad day for any country rife with human
rights abuse, when a member of the judiciary entrenches the future
possibility of human rights abuse.
By dismissing international
treaties in favour of laws that fly in the face of the UN Declaration
of Human Rights, the Zimbabwe authorities have brought about the
direct suffering of over 2 million farmers and farm workers, most
of whom have been left homeless or jobless.
The people of Zimbabwe
are now totally dependent on international food aid. The land reform
program has resulted in a net de-settlement of people and has brought
the vast majority of Zimbabweans into poverty.
Far from being for the
"public good," which the judge has evidently deceived
himself into writing, the land reform program has indisputably been
a programme of violent, forced eviction without compensation and
has resulted in the total dereliction of the majority Zimbabwe's
commercial agricultural properties.
The judge, in his attempt
to legalise a programme of ethnic cleansing, has joined the ranks
of other judges under dictatorial regimes such as in Nazi Germany
or Stalinist Soviet Union and left Zimbabweans more exposed than
ever to further abuse by the Zimbabwe Government.
Spokesman for SADC Tribunal Rights Watch
Cell: +263 913 929 138
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