The ICJ expresses solidarity with the judiciary of Zimbabwe

The ICJ applauds the courageous stance of Chief Justice Gubbay of Zimbabwe in continuing to preside over proceedings in the Supreme Court, despite pressure by the Government of Zimbabwe that he vacate his office by 28 February.

The ICJ also welcomes the Chief Justice (CJ)’s decision to reconsider his intention to take early retirement. That reconsideration is entirely within the bounds of the law.

The ICJ is similarly encouraged by the statements of Supreme Court Justices McNally and Ibrahim who have affirmed their intentions to carry out their full terms of office and not bow to Government pressure to take early retirement.

The resolve of all of these Justices to uphold the principle of judicial independence and the Rule of Law is to be commended.

The ICJ calls upon the Government of Zimbabwe to permit CJ Gubbay and all other judicial officials to carry out their officials duties, for the duration of their terms, free from any pressures, threats or intimidation.

The ICJ endorses the statement issued on 28 February by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy, calling upon the Government to refrain from carrying out the threat to force the Chief Justice to vacate his office and official residence and to honour its international, regional and constitutional obligations concerning judicial independence.

The ICJ emphasises that under the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, as well as the Zimbabwean Constitution, Judges may not be subject to control by any executive or legislative authority, and may only be removed for reasons of incapacity or misconduct following the strict application of due process.

On 7 February the ICJ issued a statement expressing deep concern regarding the announced intention of CJ Gubbay to retire early following months of sustained personal attacks by the Government and its inadequate response to the CJ’s pleas to provide for his safety.

The ICJ will continue to closely monitor the situation.

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