Pressure builds on SADC to enforce rule of law

Pressure is continuing to build on leaders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to honour their commitments to human rights and the rule of law, with the launch of a new international lobby group.

Mike Campbell
Mike Campbell

The Mike Campbell Foundation was launched in London on Wednesday in memory of the late Chegutu farmer who made history by taking Robert Mugabe to court over the land grab campaign, and winning. The SADC Tribunal ruled in 2008 that the campaign was unlawful and ordered the Mugabe regime to protect the remaining commercial farming community and compensate those who had lost land.

The road to that court victory has been a tragic one, and months before the final Tribunal ruling in 2008, Mike, his wife and son-in-law Ben Freeth were abducted and severely beaten and tortured. Mike passed away last year as a result of his injuries.

The SADC Tribunal meanwhile was suspended over its ruling against Mugabe, a move which has been slammed as a serious blow for the rule of law and the protection of human rights in the region. The decision, taken by all SADC leaders last year, has effectively left SADC citizens with no legal recourse against their governments.

The Mike Campbell Foundation now aims to put more pressure on SADC to honour its commitments and restore the SADC Tribunal and protect human rights. His son-in-law, Ben Freeth, who launched the Foundation on Wednesday said: “This is to carry out the work that Mike started.”

“Africa can lead the world if there is access to justice and rule of law and respect for human rights,” Freeth told SW Radio Africa, adding: “Now we just have to get the leaders on board too.”

Meanwhile, Freeth has continued Campbell’s legal fight and last month filed an application at the African Commission over the suspension of the Tribunal. Last week the Commission said it would take up the case, which Freeth said was a positive and encouraging development. – SW Radio Africa News

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