Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Resolution U.No. 137/2013 Constitutional Court (2014)

Abortion and reproductive health rights, Gender discrimination, International law

A legal scholar and four non-governmental organizations filed an initiative with the Constitutional Court of Macedonia for the commencement of a procedure to review the constitutionality of the Law on Termination of Pregnancy ((“Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia”, nos.87/2013, 164/2013 and 144/2014”) (the “LTP”) and its compatibility with international law, on the basis that the LTP created “a possibility of state interference into the right of choice and free decision-making of the women (which was contrary to Article 41 paragraph 1 and Article 118 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia)”. Further, the applicants stated that the LTP contravenes Articles 11 paragraph 1, Article 39 paragraph 2 and Article 41 paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which provides that female citizens had sovereignty over themselves, their life, physical integrity and health. The applicants pointed out, inter alia, that the requirement to submit a written request, mandatory counselling, and waiting period were incompatible with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of choice regarding childbirth. In addition, given that those provisions in the LTP did not exist for any other medical intervention, they represented a discrimination against women. All but one of the judges stated that they do not consider the LTP to be problematic and fully rejected the initiative. 



Affaire Songo Mboyo Tribunal Militaire de Garnison Mbandaka (2007)

Gender-based violence in general, International law, Sexual violence and rape

In December 2003, members of the Congolese army (FARDC) under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Bokila Lolemi stationed in the village of Songo Mboyo mutinied over unpaid wages.  They targeted the local population and committed mass rapes across two nights with as many as 119 victims.  Lolemi was charged with crimes against humanity for rape of 32 women by forces under his command and effective control.  The court of first instance was the Military Garrison Tribunal of Mbandaka, which found 7 of the 12 defendants guilty, including Lolemi. Lolemi was found to have failed to exercise appropriate control over his soldiers and prevent the mass rapes, which he knew or should have known his soldiers were committing.  The decision was appealed to and confirmed by the Military Court of Equateur. Though the defendants denied the rapes, the courts disagreed, citing survivors’ testimony and medical reports. This case is significant because it is one of the first instances of a Congolese Military Court directly applying the Rome Statute (in addition to DRC law n ° 024/2002 of November 18, 2002).  The decision was issued by the same court and in the same year as the Mutins de Mbandaka case.  The case is also significant because it represented the first time that government soldiers were put on trial for rape as a crime against humanity or war crime, a fact which is significant because the FARDC are believed to be responsible for a large proportion of sexual attacks in the DRC in recent times.  The decision therefore struck a blow against military impunity for such crimes. (Lower court decision available at: https://www.legal-tools.org/doc/166854/pdf/)



Oloka-Onyango & 9 Others v. Attorney General Constitutional Court of Uganda (2014)

Gender discrimination

Petitioners sued, claiming the Speaker of Parliament allowed a vote to pass Anti-Homosexuality Act (“AHA”) of 2014 without the mandated quorum (alternatively “Coram”), which requires the presences of one-third of all voting Members of Parliament.  Petitioners also claimed the AHA was unconstitutional because it violated LGBTQ people’s right to privacy and freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.  The Court held that the Petitioners demonstrated that the vote proceeded without the necessary quorum, which meant Petitioners prevailed without the Court reaching the issues regarding the substance of the AHA.



Nabagesera & 3 Others v. Attorney General & Another High Court at Kampala (2014)

Gender discrimination

Members of Freedom and Roam Uganda (“FARUG”) sued the Attorney General and Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo for violating their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly, right to participate in peaceful civil society activity, and right to equal treatment before the law.  In February 2012, Minister Lokodo personally appeared at and ordered closed down a FARUG-hosted “project planning, advocacy, human rights, leadership, and business skills” workshop in 2012 on the grounds that the workshop was an “illegal gathering of [h]omosexuals.”  The respondents argued that Uganda Penal Code (sec. 148) prohibits homosexual acts, which includes the prohibition of direct or indirect encouragement, incitement, and conspiracy to commit the offense.  Citing the Uganda Penal Code, Constitution of Uganda, and African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Court held that individual human rights are not absolute and may be restricted in the public interest as long as the restrictions do not amount to political persecution.  Calling the workshops “a pretext for human rights advocacy to promote homosexual acts which are prohibited by the Ugandan laws,” the Court rejected Applicants’ freedom of expression arguments because their activities constituted “offenses against morality” and “prejudicial to the public interest.”  In response to Applicants’ use of international human rights law, the Court held that Uganda’s “different laws and moral values” require different definitions and protections of the public interest than those cited in precedent from the UN, South Africa, the European Court of Human Rights, Hong Kong, etc.  The Court also rejected the suit against the Minister of Ethics and Integrity in his individual capacity because he was acting in his official capacity, meaning the Attorney General was the only proper respondent.