Cross section of African Judges at the Third Judicial Dialogue at Arusha, Tanzania
Cross section of African Judges at the Third Judicial Dialogue at Arusha, Tanzania

Mr. Justice Ferdinand L. K. Wambali, Principal Judge of the Judiciary of Tanzania has lamented that many people on the continent feel that African Judiciaries and the Justice System no longer serve the average persons.

He asserted that the fear of many people of not being understood in the courtrooms is a key reason why many litigants turn to arbitration and mediation to resolve their disputes.

“It is my appeal that such attitude should be dealt with immediately by our respective judiciaries in the continent. It is important to understand that quality, independence and efficiency are the key component for an effective justice system,” Justice Wambali stated at the on-going Third African Judicial Dialogue at Arusha, Tanzania.

Justice Wambali emphasis that, access to an effective justice system is an essential right which must be the foundation of democracy and recognised by the constitutional traditions.

“Nobody can deny the fact that everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial organ established by law.

“On the other hand, many States recognise that a well-functioning Judicial System also underpins economic development. Moreover confidence in the Justice System creates a climate of certainty and reliability that enables forward business planning and hence a thriving private sector which all States wish to happen,” Justice Wambali stated.

He therefore emphasized that an effective Justice System that interprets and applies the law fairly, impartially and without undue delay is fundamental to citizens’ rights and a well-functioning economy.

“Our respective judiciaries therefore cannot do better in improving effective justice without increasingly engaging with the citizens and other court users to gain more insights on what should be done to serve the society better.

“We must understand that as a public service, the judiciary is ultimately accountable to the citizenry. The parties who engage our Judicial System are entitled to know and to be satisfied with how the Justice System operates, and functions,” he said.

Dilating on the theme of the Dialogue: “Improving Judicial Efficiency in Africa,” Justice Wambali said in order to improve efficiency of the judiciaries, there is a need to undertake reforms to the justice system.

Nevertheless, the reforms to be done should not be isolated and geared toward piecemeal solutions. Reforms therefore should take a more comprehensive approach that can lead to more uniform results, he noted.

Justice Gerard Niyungeko, Judge and former President of the African Court chaired the opening session at which representatives from the World Bank, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and African Union Commission Chairperson made statements.

Third African Judicial Dialogue, organised by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights under the auspices of the African Union (AU).

The Dialogue is being attended by about 150 delegates from AU Member States- including Chief Justices, Presidents of Supreme and Constitutional Courts from the 55 AU Member States, as well as regional and international judicial bodies and other relevant stakeholders.

The biennial meeting is on the general theme: ‘’Improving Judicial Efficiency in Africa’’ and is a follow up to the first edition held in November 2013 in Arusha, Tanzania, and second in November 2015, also in Arusha.

The overall objective of the Dialogue is to explore ways of enhancing judicial efficiency in Africa.

It also serve as platform for Africa’s top judiciary officials to exchange experiences on the on-going continental judicial reforms, trends on human rights jurisprudence, continuing judicial education and management of judicial institutions on the continent.

The African Judicial Dialogue is organized in collaboration with the World Bank, the German Cooperation (GiZ) and the European Union (EU).

Source: CDA Consult

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