Home | About | News | Conferences | Join Us | Memorabilia | Publications | Education | Gender Section
Links | Contact | Support Us | CMJA Endowment Fund | Login for Members Area | Login for Council Members


CMJA has just signed up to Give as you Live to encourage our supporters to raise funds for us every time they shop online

We are asking our Members to do their online shopping through Give as you Live - money can be raised on every train ticket we buy, every piece of stationery we order and that's just while we're at work! Thousands of top retailers including Amazon, Play.com, John Lewis and Expedia have signed up to donate a percentage to the CMJA every time we shop online through Give as you Live, so if you haven't already, go to the website http://www.giveasyoulive.com/join/cmja
and get started.



"Independent Judiciaries, Diverse Societies"
Wellington, New Zealand

13-18 September 2015
Further details to follow shortly



WRI have received a small grant to enhance their networks of activist widows groups and lawyers dealing with cases related to harmful cultural mourning rites and the inhumane treatment of widows. It is gathering information with a view to sharing good practice in improving the rights of widows. If you are a lawyer or judicial officer working in this field in Sub-Saharan Africa or know of a widows group or law firm undertaking such work, , WRI would like to hear from you so that it can build up a repository of good pracice and lessons learned and case law. See WRI

If you can assist please contact:

Return to Top


The following information has been updated from websites across the Commonwealth.

see above under Recent CMJA activities.
On 2 August 2014, a new Chief Justice, Justice Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, a former Fiji Vice-President, was appointed in Nauru. In addition, two other judges were appointed: Mohammed Shafi Khan, a Fijian barrister who has been practising in Australia, and Jane Elizabeth Hamilton-White, an Australian who was once the principal magistrate in Solomon Islands. Former Chief Justice Geoffrey Eames said in his press statement that "I hope that the new judges have taken heed of the events that led to the removal of Mr Law and myself. I wish them well, as I fear that their independence and courage will be tested many times."

On 13th March 2014 the Chief Justice of Nauru, Justice Geoffrey Eames resigned. Click here for a copy of the Press release issued by him.

The Nauru government welcomed his resignation and announced that the judiciary would be reformed. Click here for the Press Release from the Nauru Government.

On 17th March, the Opposition called for the resignation of the Minister of Justice. Click here for details

In September 2013, the Law Association of Zambia petitioned the high court for the removal of the Acting hief Justice http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/laz-files-a-statement-of-claim-in-high-court-to-have-phillis-lombe-chibesakunda-removed/ http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/out-of-fear-judges-refuse-to-handle-case-involving-acting-chief-justice/

In August 2013 the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) in conjunction with the Law Association of Zambia issued a report on the state of the Zambian judiciary: Zambia: Justice Sector and Rule of Law http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/report-executive-interference-undermines-judiciary-performance/

On 17 July 2013- Prof Muna Ndulo disputed the Supreme Court Judgement on the three suspended judges: http://zambiareports.com/2013/07/12/prof-ndulo-disputes-supreme-court-judgement-on-mutuna/

On 20 May 2013- the three suspended judges applied for Judicial Review challenging the legality of the Tribunal set up to hear their cases. They won their right to Judicial Review in the Ndola High Court. But the government has since announced they will challenge the judicial review.

On 12 May 2013-Prof Hamsangule said that the decision of 9 May 2013- weakened the judiciary. http://www.zambianwatchdog.com/professor-hansungule-says-supreme-court-ruling-on-tribunal-has-weakened-judiciary/

On 11 May 2013, there were calls for the Acting Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice to step down: http://zambiadailynation.com/2013/05/11/justice-lombe-chibesakunda-must-step-down/

On 9 May 2013, the government of Zambia won their right to appeal against the Judicial Review of President Sata's decision to suspend three judges. In April 2012, Justice Phillip Musonda, of the Supreme Court and Justices Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga of the High Court for alleged professional misconduct. The judges were suspended in relation to a case related to issues arising from the demise of Zambia airways and a loan. The three judges suspended challenged President Sata's decision through a judicial review, which acted as a stay of President Sata's decision and won their case. The government appealed against the judicial review and on 9 May 2013 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the appeal by 4 votes to 3.
However, it also recommended that the tribunal which had been convened to hear the case against the three judges should be disbanded. For further information: please see:

7 November 2013
The International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) announced that visas were been revoked their delegation which was due to participate in the launch co-hosted by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and the IBAHRI entitled 'Making Commonwealth Values a Reality: the Rule of Law and the Independence of the Legal Profession' from 13 -15 November 2013. The delegation included the current UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mrs Gabriella Knaul and also the first UN Special Rapporteur, Dato' Param Cumaraswamy.

26 August 2013
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the English Bar Human Rights Group issued an Amicus Brief in the Special Application for leave to appeal against the Judgement of the Court of Appeal under and in terms of Articles128(2) of the Constitution in the case of Dr Shirani Bandaranayake

19 April 2013
The CLA, CLEA and CMJA produce a resolution on Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Law Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa

3 April 2013
International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) report published http://mail-int-bar.org/_act/link.php?mId=A9142688832712293945133506423012&tId=10931726

20 February 2013
Bar Human Rights Committe- Seminar
Speech by Dr Nihal Jayawickrama,
Legal Opinion by Mr Geoffrey Robertson QC

7 January 2013
Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka quashed impeachment of Chief Justice:

11 January 2013
Parliamentary Committee proceed with impeachment. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20982990

UN Report on Human Rights in Sri Lanka published
The UN Report on the status of Human Rights in Sri Lanka was published on 14 November 2012. Click here for details.

Traditional Courts Bill
In October 2013 the National Council of Provinces has placed it back on its agenda for discussion with a view to sending it back to the provinces for further consultation. http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Traditional-Courts-Bill-back-to-provinces-20131015


The CMJA has been monitoring the progress of the controversial "Traditional Courts Bill" which has been brought before the South African parliament. The Traditional Courts Bill would create a separate legal system for 18 million rural South Africans. The Traditional Courts Bill, as currently drafted would allow Chiefs in traditional societies, to be the judges in legal disputes amongst residents within their jurisdiction. Supporters of the Bill believe that the adoption of this Bill would free up the existing judicial system, reduce delays and ensure better productivity within the administration of justice in South Africa. However, the rights of women, children and other vulnerable members of society would be put in jeopardy as the bill as currently drafted does not allow for these vulnerable individuals to chose which court they want their case to be heard in. In addition, traditional courts do not cater for legal representation. As the judicial officers in these traditional courts would not be legally qualified, the existing qualification requirements for judicial officers in South Africa would not apply to them. The Chiefs in the patriarchal, traditional dominated societies of South Africa are not necessarily aware or open to the idea of women's rights or the rights of other vulnerable groups in Society. In his speech at the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders, President Zuma said Africans had their own way of solving their problems through traditional institutions. "Let us solve African problems the African way, not the white man's way," Zuma said, to cheers from traditional leaders. "Let us not be influenced by other cultures and try to think the lawyers are going to help". However this is ignoring South Africa's international human rights commitments.



Return to Top



October 2014
800th Magna Carta Foundation
award grant awarded to the CMJA, MJA, together with the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Commonwealth Legal Education Association for a Travelling Exhibition for the Magna Carta. Click here for the Press Release. For further information about the Commonwealth-wide Magna Carta Celebrations please see http://magnacarta800th.com

September 2014
The CMJA held its conference in Livingstone, Zambia from 7-11 September 2014. the Conference atttracted over 214 delegates and 44 accompanying persons from 35 jurisdictionis. The CMJA is grateful to the Zambian Judiciary and government for their support for the Conference. The Theme of the Conference was: "Judicial Independence: the Challenges of the Modern Era". A copy of the Keynote paper presented by the CMJA President on "Judicial Independence: The Role of the Chief Justice" is available here.

The CMJA also participated in the Commonwealth Secretariat's workshop on Judicial Services Commissions which took place in the wings of the CMJA Conference.

August 2014
New Council Member for the Caribbean. The CMJA appointed two new Council Members for the Caribbean Region. They are Mrs Pamela Beckles of Barbados and Mrs Nicola Stoneham of Bermuda.

July 2014
The CMJA Secretary General was invited to attend the launch of the Summer Exhibition at the UK Supreme Court in London: "A Court at the Crossroads of Empire: Stories from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council" on 31 July 2014. This exhibition is open until 26 September 2014 and is well worth a visit for those of you coming to London in August/September. Click here for further details

June 2014
The CMJA and the Judiciary of New Zealand have agreed the Theme for the CMJA's Triennial Conference in Wellington, New Zealand: "Independent Judiciaries, Diverse Societies". The Conference will take place from 13-18 September 2015. Further details will follow in due course

Legal and Judicial Legacies of Empire - 17 June 2014
The CMJA together with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, the Commonwealth Legal Education Association and the Overseas Services Pensioners Associatioin to organise a one day conference on the Legal and Judicial Legacies of Empire. Speakers included Lord Judge the former Chief Justice of England and Wales, Justice Desiree Bernard of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Dr Haji Mohd Na'im Mokhtar of the Syariah Court of Malaysia, former Chief Justice Mahapela Lehohla of Lesotho, as well as the CMJA Executive Vice President, Judge Tim Workman. Lord Judge spoke eloquently about the influence of the Magna Carta and other presenters spoke on the application of English law and other legal systems in the Empire, the evolution of the courts, the legacy of old laws as well as human rights and the new common law in the Commonwealth. This one day conference was attended by over 200 participants.

March 2014
The CMJA Director of Programmes, Judge Shamim Quresh, Regional Vice President, Jusice Margaret Ramsay-Halei and Mr Mark Guthrie (LCAD) Commonwealth Secretariat undertook a training of judicial officers in Guyana on domestic violence issues. We are grateful to the Commonwealth Secretariat for their support fo this training. Click here for further details of the training.

February 2014
CMJA launches Brochure for the CMJA Conference in Livingstone, Zambia. "Judicial Independence: The Challenges in the Modern Era" being held from 7-11 September 2014
Click here for details.

January 2014
The CMJA Director of Programmes, Judge Shamim Qureshi and Mr Mark Guthrie (LCAD) Commonwealth Secretariat undertook a training of judicial officers in the Maldives on We are grateful to the Commonwealth Secretariat for their support fo this training.

The CLA, CLEA and CMJA issued a statement following the forced removal and deportation of Magistrate Peter Law from Nauru, the disregard for the Chief Justice's injunction on the matter and the revocation of the Chief Justice's visa to enter Nauru. Click here to view the statement.

On 19 January 2014 Magistrate Peter Law was removed from his office as Resident Magistrate for Nauru and summarily deported without prior notice to the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice issued an injunction on the matter and was due to fly out to Nauru on Sunday 19 January 2014, the Chief Justice visa to enter Nauru was revoked.

Click here for initial Media Release from the Chief Justices of 19 January 2014
Click here for the Government's news release
click here for the response by the Chief Justice of 22 January 2014

LawAsia Statement:

Law Council of Australia and Bar Association of Australia Statement:


Previous reports : Click here

























































The Commonwealth Legal
Information Institute

Return to Top


CMJA, Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DX
Tel: 44 20 7976 1007 Fax: 44 20 7976 2394 Email:
Reg No (UK): 1942930 Charity Reg No (UK): 800367