Dr. Philip I. Mpango, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania has expressed concern about the public’s outcry regarding shocking or unpleasant experiences with courts such as adjournment of cases many times.
“Sometimes cases are left pending for years, in which case the legal maxim which says justice delayed is justice denied remains a cry in the wilderness. I also encountered complaints about unbearable costs of litigation; cumbersome court procedures; court summons and judgements written in foreign languages.
“Discrimination against women, people with disability and the poor; delayed execution of valid court orders; and people losing cases simply for lack of legal know how of filing a case even when it is clear that they have a genuine claim,” Dr Mpango stated at the Fifth African Judiciary Dialogue.
Opening the fifth African Judicial Dialogue in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania which is on the theme: “Building trust in African judiciaries,” Dr Mpango noted that people should be able to legitimately predict the outcome of their cases particularly when the law and facts are clear and the evidence is watertight.
He said: “I understand that African judiciaries are creatures of Constitutions of their respective countries while regional courts such as the African Court are established by treaties or protocols.
“It is clear that, the mandates of these judiciaries are stipulated in the establishing legal instruments and the modus operandi of courts are defined in the relevant statutes, customs and conventions.
“Nothing is left to chance and therefore one would expect the courts to act in accordance with their mandated jurisdictions, applying relevant laws to the established facts and evidence adduced during the process of adjudication”.
Dr Mpango deduced that the choice of the theme of this dialogue building trust in African Judiciaries itself was an honest admission of the limited trust confidence that people had in African Judiciaries.
To earn their trust, “we have to know and work hard to find a cure to what are the strongest factors and concerns that diminish trust in African judiciaries,” the Tanzanian Vice President noted.
President of the African Court, Lady Justice Imani Daud Aboud, explained the dual perspective to the theme, as it must be seen from the point of view of relations between courts and court users and relations between judicial actors.
“Whether in domestic or international justice, the question of trust is paramount. It is a guarantee of stability and security for any society. Trust means that judicial institutions gain credibility and overcome any hint of crisis.
“Without trust, no judicial institution can adequately accomplish its task and is therefore bound to be criticised by all sides. It is therefore imperative as much as possible to act in a manner that does not erode trust,” the African Court President stated.
She noted: “in this regard it is important to address the issue of independence and impartiality, corruption, effectiveness, and efficiency of the judiciary as well as the issue of a permanent dialogue between the judges, all of which are essential factors of trust in domestic or international courts”.
The fifth Judicial Dialogue is organized by the African Court under the aegis of the African Union, as a broader platform to engage on adjudication for the benefit of the people.
It also seeks to build on previous judicial dialogues and relate to the credibility of the judiciaries in Africa.