294/04 Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and IHRDA (on behalf of Andrew Barclay Meldrum) / Zimbabwe

Brief Facts

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) (Complainant) filed communication 294/04 before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on behalf of Mr. Andrew Barclay Meldrum against Zimbabwe(Respondent) .Complainant alleges that Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Zimbabwe) and Immigration Act (Zimbabwe) violates Mr. Meldrum’s rights of freedom of expression and freedom to disseminate information provided under the African Charter.

Issues

-Whether appeals to quasi-judicial government functionaries constitute valid remedies to be exhausted

– Whether deported/exiled complainants are required to exhaust local remedies despite not being physically present in respondent State through instructions to counsel to act on their behalf

– Instances where recourse to local remedies is a “senseless formality”

– Whether the communication was written in insulting or disparaging language

Alleged Violations

Article 1 Obligation of member states to give effect to the African Charter

Article 2 Freedom from discrimination

Article 3 Equality before the law and equal protection of the law

Article 7 Right to fair trial

Article 9 Right to receive information and express and disseminate opinions

Article 12 Right to protection of non-nationals from arbitrary expulsion

Article 26 Duty to guarantee the independence of courts

Status of Communication

The ACmHPR held that the respondent state violated all the rights listed above. On the issue of exhaustion of local remedies, the ACmHPR held that the respondent state contributed to the frustration of the complainant effort to exhaust local remedies hence, the complainant is deem to have constructively exhausted local remedies. The communication was decided on merits at the 6th Extra-Ordinary Session of the ACHPR held in Banjul, The Gambia (April, 2009).

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