By John Masuku
Harare, December 03, 2013- The ongoing re-alignment of local laws into the new constitution presents an opportunity to further domesticate outstanding international norms and standards, an international law expert has said.
Tafadzwa Mugabe, an award winning international law expert told delegates who attended a conference on the theme “The Hague: Legal capital of the world”, organised by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Zimbabwe to discuss how to effectively incorporate various international laws that law-based organisations must petition the Constitutional Court to press for the domestication of international laws.
“Because the new constitution creates a positive duty on the state to domesticate international law, it is the view taken here that there exists an opportunity for the Law Society and legal aid organisations and the general citizenry to approach the Constitutional Court demanding that international law standards be domesticated,” said Mugabe, a Harare-based legal practitioner and former board member of Radio VOP Communications Trust.
According to Virginia Mabhiza, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Zimbabwe has not yet localised many international standards and norms due to staff movements and fragmentation of duties among different ministries.
To this end Mabhiza in a speech read on her behalf by Mabel Msika, the director of policy and research in her ministry said an inter-ministerial taskforce was set up in order to speed up the process.
“By and large, international law has a great influence on the Constitution of Zimbabwe and our law. However, Zimbabwe is averse to submitting itself and its interface with international law to any type of outside adjudication. This much has been obvious in our very active role in the dismantling of the SADC Tribunal, our impunity towards decisions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, our reluctance to ratify the Protocol to the African Court and the refusal over the years to ratify the International Convention Against Torture,” said Mugabe, who is serving as one of the directors of the privately-owned Voxmedia Productions, which is seeking to obtain a radio broadcasting licence from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.
David Drury, who represented many displaced white Zimbabwean farmers in their legal challenges for over a decade concurred by citing recent rulings by South African courts which granted the investigation of cases of torture and other human rights violations during the 2008 run-off elections in Zimbabwe.
The Netherlands ambassador to Zimbabwe, Gera Sneller said her country’s constitution states explicitly that government must promote the international legal order and hence the Hague is known as the legal capital of the world.
Many international legal institutions, including the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) are based in the Hague.