In the news today TLT

15 JULY 2014


1. South Africa: Private service providers and constitutional obligations

In South Africa there has been some debate about the duty of private persons (including juristic persons, such as corporations) to protect fundamental human rights– the so-called “horizontal application of rights”. This debate has specifically heated in the context of evictions.

A few years back, private property holders in South Africa started using private security firms to evict recalcitrant squatters. One such firm is Red Ant Security Services, which is notorious for evicting squatter in Gauteng.

The “rend ants” are infamous for resorting to underhanded tactics (such as allegedly infesting building with pests), destruction of property and violence towards squatters.

A development which interests us is the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Red Ant Security Services and the Minister of Human Settlements (representing government).

In terms of the MoU, the “red ants” agreed to 1) give 48 hours notice before undertaking eviction, and 2) to verify the validity of eviction order.

Read report on Business Day.


2. Britain: emergency surveillance bill – further erosion of citizens’ privacy? 

The Guardian reports that Edward Snowden, the self-exiled U.S. whistle-blower, has condemned the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) (or “emergency surveillance bill) which is being pushed through the British parliament this week. DW reports that that the bill is being fast-tracked and “is scheduled to be passed by both houses of parliament by Thursday before summer recess.”

The British government contends that the bill became necessary when the European Court of Justice struck down a 2006 EU Directive requiring companies to retain user-metadata for 2 years.

Civil rights (and privacy advocacy) organisations have condemned the bill. They contend that the bill seeks to circumvent the ECJ ruling by re-introducing the powers surveillance powers.

The Law Society of Scotland has also warned against the fast-tracking of the bill.

See reports: The Guardian and DW.


3. U.S.: A win for equality – court denies Utah attempt to block same-sex marriages

The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has denied an attempt refuse legal recognition of 1,300 same-sex marriages in Utah. According to Jurist, “The request came in response to both the District Court for the District of Utah’s ruling in December and the Tenth Circuit’s decision in June to uphold [JURIST reports] the lifting of the same-sex marriage ban in Utah.”

See full Jurist report.


4. Iran: Administrators jailed for Facebook pages

An Iranian court has sentenced 8 Facebook page administrators. According to a Jurist report, the administrators were convicted of “plotting against national security, spreading propaganda against the ruling system and insulting officials, though the Facebook pages in question are unknown.”

Read full report.


5. OPINION: Boehner v Constitution

We close with this op-ed by Harvard Law School’s professor Cass R. Sunstein on conservetive (U.S.) thought and it’s insistence on fidelity to the Constitution. YUM!

Read on Bloomberg View.