World Bulletin / News Desk
Zambia has embarked on a long-awaited judicial and legal overhaul that will include the introduction of a constitutional court and special tribunals to investigate errant judicial officers.
"The reason why people want the administration of justice in Zambia changed is that they need a legal system which will not compromise local and international standards," Justice Minister Winter Kabimba told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
"In our opinion, this can come about when the judiciary is not only sensitive to public opinion, but also promotes good governance and human rights," he added.
In January, President Michael Sata appointed a 20-member judicial and legal reform commission.
It includes representatives from different professions and is headed by former Supreme Court judge Frederick Chomba.
The commission, which was sworn in by acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda on March 18, is tasked with reforming the administration of justice in the country and ensuring that the judicial system adequately responds to Zambia's political, economic and social needs.
Chibesakunda has urged commissioners to scrutinize Zambia's judicial and legal systems and attune them to the needs of the Zambian people.
"Your mandate is to bring about change for efficient and effective administration of justice," he said at the swearing-in ceremony.
Zambia won its independence from Britain in 1964.
The landlocked, southern African country has a population of some 14.6 million, according to the CIA Factbook.
Justice Minister Kabimba believes the commission will be a catalyst for a more progressive and independent judiciary.
He said expected legal changes would include the introduction of a constitutional court and legislation allowing for the establishment of special tribunals to investigate judicial officers suspected of wrongdoing.
"The reforms will also seek to establish additional Principal High Court registries and Resident Magistrate Courts; to recognize traditional courts under traditional rulers as the first-level court below the local court in the judicial hierarchy; and upgrade lay magistrates to professional magistrates through in-service training," the minister added.
"These changes will aim to speed up delivery of justice and make it accessible to people," Kabimba told AA.
He hopes the commission will introduce a progression system in the judiciary based on merit, strengthen the appointment process of judicial officers, and ensure the latter's independence.
"The judiciary plays an important role in national development. It is important, therefore, to develop a system of appointing and making judiciary officers accountable," Kabimba insisted.
"This will restore the lost confidence people have in our current judicial system," he added.
According to Kabimba, an honest judicial system will help deter corruption, which tends to affect the underprivileged more than the rich.
"Eliminating corruption is therefore essential to tackling poverty," the minister asserted.Last Mod: 31 Mart 2014, 14:57