— Petitioner calls for use of video cameras in courts

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Some Petitioners at the ongoing Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission hearings have recommended that the media should be allowed to film court proceedings in order to expose injustices and breach of judicial procedures happening in courts of law.

Prominent Lusaka lawyer Kelvin Fube Bwalya and Zambian Voice Executive Direct Chilufya Tayali told the commission in separate submissions that there were too much intimidations and procedural errors by the judges in courts, which has led to innocent
people being sent to jail.

Mr. Bwalya disclosed that there is no law in Zambia that bars the use of cameras in courts of law or to prevent the public from
commenting on cases before the courts.


He wondered why the judicially has continued to restrict cameras from courts.

Both Mr. Bwalya and Mr. Tayali stated that the office of the Director of Public Prosecution should be decentralized and devolved so that
citizens who have been unjustly treated could be assisted or attended to easily.

The petitioners stated that errors committed by judges in courts are not checked by anyone one as there is no one watching their conduct
and added that the Police Public Complaints Authority ( PPCA ) should be replaced by an audit committee that could be used to monitor police officers’ conducts.

And Mr. Bwalya has told Justice Frederick Chomba led Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission that delays in disposing off of cases in courts are necessitated by judges’ incompetency and poor or lack of judicial system infrastructure in the country.

In his two-hours submission to the commission today, Mr. Bwalya said his research has discovered that no article in the constitution prohibits the use of cameras in the court but the trend has come and a custom which has no explanation.

The Lawyer  also observed that it was not wrong for members of the public to comment on cases that are in court as doing so would
make the judges to handle the case objectively knowing that the public is watching and following the proceedings.

He explained that the public are free to make comments on evidence that have been stamped by the court but should not interfere with
evidence that have not been brought to court as doing so would be a breach of the law.

He cited as example of the famous South African Pistorious case which has been televised as one system which
Zambia has to emulate if the justice system is to be deemed fair and transparent.

Mr. Bwalya also suggested that there should be independent board to appoint judges who qualify to discharge the duties of that office in
order to avoid the current delays which he said are caused to judges who unnecessarily delay the judgments due to alleged

He noted that they judicially has allowed the elevation of counsels who have served long or poses qualifications but do not have the
capacity to become judges because they are lazy to research.

He said only those that have demonstrated that they can work efficiently within a limited time should be appointed as judges after
being interviewed by a panel of experts which he said will speed up the process of delivering justice to the citizens.

He further recommended that the judicially should put in place a time frame within which the judges should be expected to deliver their
judgments to curb delays  in the delivery of justice.

He also recommended that the government should establish prison and courts in all the districts in order to citizens to access justice

He also urged the law enforcement agencies to stop arresting citizens if they are not ready or have no evidence to prosecute them as doing so is infringing on the citizens rights.

Mr. Bwalya however admitted that access to justice by citizens is difficult as judges and other legal practitioners threatens and treat
citizens in courts and prisons as though they have no rights.

He disclosed that legal charges were also too high for ordinary Zambians to afford.

In response Director of Public Prosecution Mutembo Nchito stated that the judiciary do not rejoice in sending innocent people to jail saying
his office will look into such matters to ensure that something is done to cases of people who are allegedly been convicted wrongly.

He advised petitioners to document the cases are write to his office so that the matter can be taken up and reviewed.

But LAZ President Patrick Chisanga said the recommendation of Mr. Bwalya that Zambia can learn from countries that are doing well was
welcome as the commission is sitting will an aim of getting recommendations of that nature to improve the judicially.

And another Commissioner Stephen Mumbi wondered whether Zambia was ready to allow cameras in courts and whether judges would accept active cases to be discussed in public the way it is done in other countries.