—-The Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission has resumed its public sittings with a petitioner calling for the decentralisation of most governance institutions.
Robbie Khondowe, 60, of plot number 90, Kesco Buildings told the Commission that most people in rural areas are denied adequate access to justice because they lack resources to hire private lawyers.
Mr Khondowe told the Justice Fredrick Chomba-led Commission sitting in the Lundazi Council Chamber that there is urgent need to decentralise governance institutions such as the Legal Aid Board so that poor people could have access to free legal representation.
Mr Khondowe also petitioned the Commission to ensure that institutions mandated to enhance access to justice, including the Police Public Complaints Authority (PPCA) and the Judicial Complaints Authority (JCA), are created at the district level for under-privileged people to access them.
"It is costly for us people in rural areas to access justice because these institutions do not exist here as we have to travel to Chipata to seek help," complained Mr Khondowe.
He also told the Commission that appointing authorities should revisit the composition of the PPCA to include a wide representation of stakeholders and not its current form where only members of the police service are appointed.
And earlier when she opened the public sitting, Lundazi District Commissioner, Janet Mpalukani, said there was need to build additional courts and police posts so as to reduce distances and costs to accessing justice.
Mrs Mpalukani also noted that there was need for the Legal Aid Board to open offices in the district so that the poor could have effective legal representation as there were no private lawyers providing legal services in Lundazi.
"I am hopeful that stakeholders in the district are going to make practical submissions to the Commission to help transform the Legal and Justice Sector," said Mrs Mpalukani.
And Commission chairperson, Justice Fredrick Chomba, in his opening remarks, explained that the Commission was the first of its kind to be appointed to inquire into the operations of the Legal and Justice Sector.
Justice Chomba said the final recommendations of the Commission based on the public submissions will lead to significant changes in the governance of the country arising from the increased concerns about the deteriorating justice system.
"From the findings and recommendations government should be able to make improvements in the governance sector for the benefit of the people of Zambia," said Justice Chomba.
The Commission will tomorrow sit in Chipata for two-days before proceeding to Katete and Petauke.
Six petitioners have also appeared before the Commission with most of them seeking remedy for personal matters arising from court cases.