Dr. Philip I. Mpango, Vice President of Tanzania has propounded three key areas to build judicial trust: uphold judicial independence and impartiality, tackle corruption head on, and harness use of ICT in court proceedings and other functions.
Speaking at the fifth African Judicial Dialogue which is on theme: “Building trust in African judiciaries,” Dr Mpango said the independence and impartiality of the judiciary is paramount in the quest to building trust in African Judiciaries.
“The Constitution of Tanzania for instance provides for the separation of powers between the executive, parliament and the judiciary. It empowers the President to appoint judges but once the appointment is done, the President’s hands are tied even when it becomes common knowledge that a particular judge is undeserving the sacred office.
“This is intended to ensure the independence and impartiality of the judiciary from the executive arm,” Vice President Mpango stated at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to challenge delegates to the conference to work towards enhancing the work of the judiciary.
“I call on the African Judiciary to discuss this aspect and come up with recommendations to enhance the independence and the impartiality of the judiciaries without jeopardizing the delivery of justice.
“For our people to have confidence in the judiciary, justice must not only be done for them, but must also be seen to be done, and for justice to be seen to be done, the independence and impartiality of the judiciary must be guaranteed,” Dr Mpango stated.
On the second priority area for building trust, Vice President Mpango said corruption undermined public confidence not only in African judiciaries but also in governments.
“Corruption also fosters criminality and slows down efforts to eradicate poverty. It seems the famous joke about lawyers which says a good lawyer is one who knows the judge not the law is still real.
“Some so called good lawyers are just crafty, accessing judges, magistrates, court brokers and court clerks and influencing them in favour of their clients. In the end, corruption and negotiated justice erode people’s trust in the judiciary.
“This must change. I believe the judiciaries should be able to address this malady and come up with solid and actionable recommendations to address this challenge,” he said.
The Tanzanian Vice President explained that the third priority area with a great potential in building trust in African Judiciaries is to harness the use ICT in court proceedings and other functions.
“I believe the judiciary may win the confidence of the people by increasing its transparency and accessibility. In this regard, the judiciary must expedite the use of technology in preparation and filing of court documents, conducting hearings through videoconferencing, and accessing of court documents.
“I believe this will increase transparency and build the confidence of the people in the Judiciary. Lady Justice Imani Daud Aboud, African Court President noted that;“Without trust, no judicial institution can accomplish its task and it 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”.
She said, it was therefore 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.
Lady Justice Aboud said the general objectives of the fifth African Judicial Dialogue therefore was to enable African judiciaries to play their full role, in particular by building lasting trust not only between justice system actors but also between justice system actors and court users.