ICJ Vice-President and former Zimbabwe Chief Justice passes away

Enoch DumbutshenaThe ICJ today announces with deep regret the passing away of one of its Vice-Presidents, Mr Justice Enoch Dumbutshena, Chief Justice of Zimbabwe 1984 – March 1990 (picture: on the right).

The late former Chief Justice was a first class jurists with an acute sense of justice and an abiding faith in the Rule of Law which he considered the ideological mainstay of freedom, respect for human rights, human dignity and international peace and security.

Trained in the law in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, Dumbutshena’s quality was shown in the period before Zimbabwe became independent in 1980. He was one of the negotiators and drafters of the 1979 Constitution of Zimbabwe.

In this regard, he was a focal point for the fight against Robert Mugabe’s recent attacks on the Rule of Law in Zimbabwe.

He was elected a member of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in 1990. He became one of its Vice-Presidents shortly after. Only recently, on 26 November 2000, the Executive Committee of the ICJ decided to recommend the renewal of his mandate for another five years when it expires on 31 December 2000.

Justice Dumbutshena was a campaigner for a holistic approach to the fashioning of strategies for the judicial application of international human rights norms and standards. At its Triennial Meeting in Bangalore (India) in 1995, Justice Dumbutshena argued strongly for the abandonment of dry, intellectual questioning of the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights. In his view, the Rule of Law will be deprived of one of its essential attributes if judges could not enforce economic, social and cultural rights.

Justice Dumbutshena was also one of the elder African statesmen who worked tirelessly behind the scene to ensure that the Organisation of African Unity adopted a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights for the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

He died on Thursday, 14 December 2000, at his home in the Zimbabwe capital, Harare. By his death, the International Commission of Jurists and indeed Africa and the world at large have lost an eminent lawyer and a pillar for the Rule of Law.

He is survived by his wife and four children. He was 75.

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