Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tanzania: Corruption in the judiciary denies me sleep - Samatta

Corruption in the judiciary denies me sleep - Samatta

2007-07-19 10:25:29
By Siphay Nyakunga, IJMC and Gideon Kivanda, SAUT
Outgoing Chief Justice Barnabas Samatta explained yesterday how his life was characterised by sleepless nights as he thought of ways to tackle rampant corruption in the country�s judiciary.
In a rare show of criticism targeting the very system he served for years in one of the most senior positions, Samatta said corruption in the judiciary is deep-rooted and urgent measures are needed to bring things back to normal if justice is to be done and be seen to be done to all.
The long-serving judge, who made the remarks when briefing journalists in Dar es Salaam on his experience in one of the major pillars of the State, explained that corruption in the judiciary has roots that run very deep and only combined efforts by the State and wananchi could solve the problem.
``What I have always found surprising is that some of the corrupt elements were top officials in the judicial system. Obviously, it is very difficult to address this issue definitively and comprehensively enough unless each of those concerned has fear of God,`` he observed.
He recommended an overhaul of the country�s judicial system ``to enable it to meet the current demand for quality legal services``.
Elaborating, Samatta mentioned several issues that he said should be addressed in an attempt to help the judiciary deliver as expected of it by the public.
``Improving practical education for law scholars, higher salaries and generally better working conditions to judiciary staff are sure ways to make the (judicial) system perform more effectively, efficiently and ethically,`` he pointed out.
He said lawyers and law scholars would benefit from being more conversant with the demands of their profession and public expectations as well as having wider general knowledge of the realities of the lives of the people affected by the operations of the judiciary.
``Law students must be competent in the use of modern-day technological gadgets and operations like computers and the internet that will help them in performing their duties more knowledgeably,`` Samatta stated further, adding that the measure was crucial in facilitating and enhancing the dispensation of justice.
He said most courts in Tanzania still depend on poor working tools, with judges and magistrates taking long-hand notes that take long to transcribe.
``In some developed countries cases are solved through video conferences, with no demands that the accused physically appear before the court,`` he noted.
The outgoing Chief Justice saw the acute countrywide shortage of primary court magistrates as enough reason for measures to be taken to improve the services provided by the Lushoto-based Institute of Judicial Administration so as to make available 400 additional magistrates needed.
Dr Sengondo Mvungi, a senior law lecturer with the University of Dar es Salaam, hailed Judge Samatta as an illustrious legal expert and practitioner ``who has helped shape the judicial sector in Tanzania and during whose tenure as Chief Justice the country�s judiciary has witnessed substantial improvements``.
``Part of the proof of Justice Samatta�s sterling contribution lies in the increase in the number of judges in the country as well as the comprehensive restructuring of the entire court system.
These days you cannot find notes on court proceedings written on khaki sheets as used to be notoriously the case previously,`` explained the don.
The University of Dar es Salaam Vice Chancellor, Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, meanwhile thanked Justice Samatta ``for extending invaluable co-operation to the university�s law faculty`` and said they would still need his assistance even while he will be in retirement.
Justice Samatta has wrapped his seven-year tenure and was on Tuesday succeeded by another distinguished legal expert and practitioner, Justice Augustine Ramadhani.

* SOURCE: Guardian

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