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High profile Zimbabwean judge joins Victoria


28 June 2006

High profile Zimbabwean judge joins Victoria

A Zimbabwean High Court judge who fled his homeland is to join Victoria University of Wellington as a visiting Fellow in the Institute of Policy Studies.

Benjamin Paradza recently arrived in Wellington and was yesterday celebrating becoming the University’s newest Fellow for up to two years. The former Zimbabwean judge is the first person to be named Victoria University’s Sigrid Rausing Visiting Fellow in the Institute of Policy Studies. This Fellowship is being run in association with Victoria University’s New Zealand Centre for Public Law.

Mr Paradza fled Zimbabwe earlier this year after what is widely regarded by independent commentators as the latest of a series of controversial examples which have seen the Zimbabwean government accused internationally of interference with the independence of the judiciary.

Judge Paradza acquitted an opposition politician and was then himself charged with corruption and perverting the course of justice. He fled Zimbabwe and was convicted in a judicial process strongly criticised by the United Nations, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh, welcomed Mr Paradza to Victoria. “We are proud to be assisting Mr Paradza in rebuilding his career in an academic setting and we sympathise that he is unable to do this in his own country. It will be beneficial to our staff and students to have the opportunity to develop their skills with a practised jurist in their midst.”

Dr Andrew Ladley, Director of the Institute of Policy Studies, says he’s pleased to have Mr Paradza on board.

“The experience that Benjamin has been through is a vivid demonstration of the breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe, including now the almost complete erosion of the concept of an independent judiciary, free from government control. I am delighted that the New Zealand Government accepted Benjamin as a refugee and so have provided a safe haven for him and his family. And I am very pleased that Victoria has been able to work with the Sigrid Rausing Trust to create this fellowship. I am sure Benjamin will rapidly become a valued member of our community.

“Benjamin will be working directly with me in developing his own study, and in researching and commenting in the broad area of peace and conflict resolution studies where he is likely to focus on the importance of the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and human rights issues.”

Mr Paradza thanked the University for the opportunity to undertake research in Wellington.

“It’s a pleasure to be here and I hope I can be an asset to this beautiful country and the city of Wellington. I look forward to my time at Victoria University and I thank the people and the Government of New Zealand. Special gratitude also to Sigrid Rausing for this highly generous opportunity that has been made available to me.”

London based Swedish philanthropist, Sigrid Rausing has agreed to fund this new fellowship for two years. She has a particular interest in refugees and the guardians of human rights, like Benjamin Paradza, who are persecuted for trying to uphold the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

During the next two years the Institute of Policy Studies and the Faculty of Law hope to raise the additional funding required to make the Fellowship permanent.


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