Scots Law News is grateful to its comparative public law correspondent Chris Himsworth for drawing attention to the recent decision of the Botswana Appeal Court upholding the lawfulness of the decision of the country’s President, Festus Mogae, to expel Kenneth Good, a professor of political science at the University of Botswana, without giving any reasons for doing so. There is a notable dissenting judgement by Lord Coulsfield, late of the Court of Session, who argued for the unconstitutionality of the Botswana immigration legislation which allowed a deportee such as Good to be denied any information about the reasons for the order against him, even where disclosure of the reasons could do no harm to the public interest. The majority, whose approach would be greatly preferred by the UK Government (and, Scots Law News suspects, the Scottish Ministers), held that the courts should not interfere with the powers of the much better informed executive in deciding whether someone was a threat to the national interest. It appears that Good’s main offence was writing and lecturing critically about President Mogae and his government.
Events in Louisiana and neighbouring states of the USA on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Katrina on 29 August 2005 have reminded Scots Law News vividly of the tsunami in Sri Lanka on Boxing Day 2004, and also led to reflection on the linkage of natural disasters with mixed legal systems (such as Louisiana and Sri Lanka), as well as with Scots Law News‘ own plans to visit the areas affected. A party of Scots academic lawyers, with Scots Law News representatives, was due to visit colleagues in Colombo, Sri Lanka early in January 2005; but that trip was necessarily postponed (although it is understood that Professor David Carey Miller of Aberdeen will lead a replacement group to Colombo in December this year). The week before Katrina, Scots Law News learned of a similar plan for a Scottish visit to Louisiana in the summer of 2006, with Tulane Law School in New Orleans acting as host; and now we wonder whether that will have to be postponed as well, since Tulane is closed for the foreseeable future (see its emergency website, http://www.law.emory.edu/cms/site/index.php?id=1003). Tulane, in the person of its Professor Vernon Palmer, did host a wonderful first World Congress of Mixed Jurisdiction Jurists in November 2002 (proceedings published in (2003) 78 Tulane Law Review), and Edinburgh plans to mark its own tercentenary with the second such Congress in 2007. Let us hope that colleagues from Tulane and other affected Louisiana law schools such as Loyola-New Orleans (see http://www.isthatlegal.org/loyno) will be able to get there along with our friends from Sri Lanka. At least in this northern and relatively temperate part of the world disasters tend to be man-made and thus to some extent at least controllable and remediable in a relatively short time (touch wood).