CJ forms committees to guide judicial reforms

CJ forms committees to guide judicial reforms

ZANZIBAR has embarked on sweeping judicial reforms, with Acting Chief Justice (CJ) Khamis Ramadhan Abdalla creating five committees to spearhead the process.

"I have established five committees to guide the reforms but the judiciary alone cannot achieve the envisaged goals; we need the support of all stakeholders," the CJ told a refresher course for Zanzibar high court judges, magistrates and court registrars here yesterday.

The committees with their chairpersons in brackets are Reforms (Judge George Kazi); Judiciary Rules (Judge Abdulhakim Issa); Training (Judge Ibrahim Mzee Ibrahim); Statistics and ICT (Judge Rabia Mohamed); and Research, Monitoring and Supervision (Judge Aziza Suleiman).

Justice Khamis reminded the judges and magistrates of the public complaints against the judiciary, saying: "We have to work together to cleanse ourselves against these complaints—we have to regain the public trust."

He cited case delays, corruption, biased verdicts and delayed case proceedings as some of the issues that attract complaints. "These reforms have to start from within our souls; let's change and start speeding up case trials and issuance of verdicts as well as issuing case proceedings timely," he said.

Justice Khamis challenged especially the ICT committee to work hard and creatively to transform the department into a resourceful area in the judiciary. "Currently, ICT is grossly underused; we use it as a mere pool of technicians whose job is to fix faults in our computers."

He challenged the department to generate enabling systems to enable the court adequately embrace technology in its operations.

Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) Zanzibar Coordinator Abdalla Abeid said the lobby group has branded judges and magistrates as key partners in human rights defense, asking for a special Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the judiciary.

"We firmly believe that an MoU with the judiciary will easy our job; we have already signed similar agreement with the Human Rights Commission (Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance)," Mr Abeid whose organisation hosted the meeting told the judges and magistrates.

Zanzibar's Court Registrar Mohamed Ali Mohamed said the judicial system in the isles remains in its nascent stages and needs concerted efforts to nurture it. He however decried escalating cases of sexual abuse related offences, with statistics showing that Vuga-based high court has since January registered 543 cases. Unguja North and Unguja South regions' resident courts registered 55 and 62 cases, respectively, during the period.

The registrar said the sexual offenses and abusive drugs cases were contributing to congestion in the country's reformatory houses, leading to violation of human rights due to limited capacity to provide inmates with their basic human needs.

He further admitted an increase in slander sexual offence charges by dishonesty individuals against innocent people due to hatred. "There are many smear cases, but the suspects have to remain in custody pending the court decision because the cases are not bailable."

In effort to intensify the fight against gender based violence and sexual abuse, Zanzibar has amended her legislation, removing bails in sexual offences. The formation of special court is another attempt by the government to fight the crimes.

President Hussein Mwinyi, addressing gender activists in Unguja early last January, ordered the creation of the "special court for sexual offences," to intensify the crusade against woman and child abuses.


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