321/06 Law Society of Zimbabwe et al / Zimbabwe Summary of facts 1. On 26 April 2006, the Secretariat of the Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Secretariat) received the present Communication from the Complainants against the Republic of Zimbabwe (the Respondent State or Zimbabwe).1 The Complainants in this Communication are: the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, SADC Lawyers Association, East African Law Society, Bar Council of South Africa, Swaziland Law Society, Law Association of Zambia, Law Society of Lesotho, Zanzibar Law Society, Tanganyika Law Society Messrs Tinoziva Bere and Merrs Dr. Cephas Lumina. 2. The Complainants are challenging an amendment to the Constitution of Zimbabwe and submit that, following the introduction in Parliament on 15 July 2005 of the Constitutional Amendment (No. 17) Bill, the legal profession both within Zimbabwe and within the region expressed their opposition to its promulgation. However, despite these interventions, the Bill was passed and the President of Zimbabwe assented to it on 14 September 2005. 3. The Complainants assert that they are primarily concerned with subsection 16B(3)(a) of the Constitutional Amendment (No.17) Act (CAA), which has the effect of ousting the jurisdiction of the Courts of Zimbabwe to entertain challenges against executive decisions to compulsorily acquire certain properties as described therein, in particular land. Additionally, the Complainants state that the CAA will and has been retrospectively applied contrary to principles of international human rights law. 4. The Complainants argue that whereas it is the role of a competent, effective and independent judiciary to act as a check on the actions of the government and to ensure that the latter conduct is consistent with the principles enunciated in the constitution. In ousting the jurisdiction of the Courts to hear pending cases contesting the acquisition of property by the State, the Government of Zimbabwe grants itself the ability to exert unchecked power. This means therefore that all aspects of accountability and transparency in the manner in which the government acts and the officials conduct themselves is effectively removed as a result of the ouster. Articles alleged to have been violated 5. The Complainants allege violations of Article l, 3, 7 and 26 of the African Charter on Human and peoples' Right by Zimbabwe. Prayer 6. The Complainants request the Commission to request the government of Zimbabwe:1. to repeal Constitutional Amendment (No.17) Act; 2. to publicly reaffirm its support for the judiciary and its independence as an effective check on the power, and as a necessary and integral institution in the democratic process; and 3. to ensure that future constitutional charges are carried through as a holistic refoiim of thE;! Constitution rather than piecemeal reforms as this will ensure ce:rtainty and predictability of the laws in Zimbabwe. Procedure 7. The present Communication was received by the Secretariat on 26 April 2006. 8. By letter dated 2 May 2006, the Secretariat acknowledged receipt of the Communication and informed the Complainants that it will be tabled for consideration during the 39th Ordinary Session of the Commission scheduled to take place from 11to 25 May 2006 in Banjul, The Gambia. 9. During its 39th Ordinary Session held in Banjul, Gambia, from 11 to 25 May 2006, the Commission decided to be seized of the Communication. 1

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