The 2014 High Court Criminal Sessions for North Western Province have opened in Solwezi with a call by Provincial Minister, Nathaniel Mubukwanu, on stakeholders, such as the Police, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and others to partner the Judiciary to ensure timely delivery of justice.
Mr Mubukwanu said Government has made issues of timely delivery of justice and good governance a matter of priority because they are key to the wellbeing of the people.
He said this is why Government is determined to carry out several reforms in the judiciary in order to enhance the delivery of justice.
The minister said with regards to legal and constitutional reforms, the state is in the process of establishing an office of the public defender in every district in place of the current legal aid scheme.
Mr Mubukwanu said this in Solwezi today when he officially opened the first session of the High Court for North Western Province.
He said Government sponsored-law graduates were also being deployed to public legal firms such as magistrates’ courts, Attorney General’s and Director of Public Prosecution Chambers and Public Defender Chambers as well as local authorities.
The Provincial Minister said Government is also in the process of introducing appropriate legislation to enable Zambians have access to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights by way of appeal on decisions concerning human rights.
He said Government is also improving conditions of services for personnel in public legal institutions and that with regards to judicial and institutional reforms, government plans among other things to strengthen the process of appointing judges particularly with regards to their independence from the executive.
He said Government is further planning to ensure that appointments and promotions in the judiciary are made on merit and progression bases.
Mr Mubukwanu said Government is also reviewing the composition of the Judicial Service Commission and is enhancing the security of tenure of judges and magistrates.
He added that Government was working on establishing additional principal high court registries in order to make the delivery of justice accessible and less costly to the ordinary Zambians.
Mr Mubukwanu said resident magistrates’ courts were also being established at all district headquarters and that Government was equally committed to establishing and recognizing traditional courts under traditional rulers as the first level courts below the local courts in the judiciary hierarchy.
He further stated that Government is constructing more infrastructure such as court rooms at all levels and are in the process of upgrading the lay magistrates to professional magistrates through in-service training.
He hoped that with the help and support of other stakeholders, the judiciary in the province will be able to efficiently and effectively deliver justice to the people.
And North Western Province High Court Judge, Judy Mulongoti, noted that the fight against crime, which is the hallmark of a well established legal system, cannot be achieved by the judiciary alone.
Justice Mulongoti said there is need for state institutions such as the police, the Zambia Prisons Service, the Anti-Corruption Commission and many others to get actively involved in curbing the vice.
She also stated that the judiciary’s task of delivering timely justice to the citizenry has become more complex, specialized and more challenging as the country continues to develop economically, politically and socially.