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Shortage of magistrates artificial - CJ

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by Ngongo, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. Ngongo

    Ngongo JF-Expert Member

    Mar 4, 2009
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    Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani has described the shortage of magistrates in Tanzania as artificial, saying it was caused by the government`s inability to get the funds it needs to employ enough lawyers.

    He made the remarks in an exclusive interview with this paper in his office in Dar es Salaam on Friday during which he was asked why there was still an acute shortage of magistrates in the country when huge numbers of law students were graduating every year from universities and colleges and lay unemployed.

    ``At the moment there is no shortage of lawyers because it is true that we have a good number of law graduates and others who complete law diploma courses, most of whom could be employed as magistrates at different levels.

    But the problem is funding; the government does not have sufficient money to employ big numbers of new magistrates,`` explained the CJ.

    He said there was still room for the judiciary to take on board more magistrates to help speed up the work of law courts, particularly considering that the population of Tanzania has risen considerably since the last (2002) census when it was 34,569,232.

    CJ Ramadhani said it was because of the financial constraints that the government had endorsed the recruitment of only 100 resident magistrates this financial year when demand is much higher.

    But he quickly added that having enough magistrates and other court staff would not necessarily work wonders because the judiciary would still be faced with serious problems finding funding for the office accommodation and living quarters needed for the purpose.

    ``There are not enough decent court buildings in the country, the problem being especially serious in upcountry courts. Most courts have been making do with too few rooms where cases could be held,`` he noted.

    He gave the example of Dar es Salaam which, despite being the headquarters of the judiciary, has 15 High Court judges sharing four court rooms and 16 Court of Appeal judges operating from two court rooms.

    ``In the circumstances, some Court of Appeal Justice panels conduct their proceedings in High Court rooms. This reduces the number of court rooms meant specifically for High Court business and leading to many cases being held in chambers,`` the CJ pointed out.

    CJ Ramadhani promised at his swearing-in in 2007 to speed up the administration of justice as part of a strategic attempt to deal with cases faster by ending needless delays in the country`s courts.

    He said those seeking justice would enjoy their rights with minimum delay all the way from primary courts right to the Court of Appeal.

    ``I promise to aggressively push for the quick administration of justice in our courts and make sure that the processes of securing justice do not take too long,`` CJ he added.

    Without specifying the techniques or modalities he would apply to make the miracle work, he said he would address three sensitive issues - ensuring that people secured their rights as soon as humanly possible, wiping out corruption in the judiciary, and reducing litigation costs for the people.

    There have been relentless calls from various quarters for the government to increase the annual budgetary allocation to the Justice and Constitutional Affairs ministry so as to enhance its efficiency and improve service delivery.

    Observers say the new strategy announced by CJ Ramadhani can hardly work if the ministry`s budget is not increased.

    There have also been observations that the salaries of most judiciary staff are still too low and the overall work environment too poor to serve as incentives.

    President Jakaya Kikwete stated recently that corruption in the judicial system was one of the major stumbling blocks and challenges to the country`s efforts to ensure justice for all.

    He made the statement before the CJ, several other senior members of the judiciary, the Director of Public Prosecutions and members of the diplomatic corps.

    The President said the government would ensure that the judiciary budget was beefed up despite the global financial crisis so as to ensure that there was no impediment hindering court staff from carrying out their duties as expected.

    CJ Ramadhani praised the Kikwete government for not interfering with the judiciary but called on it to pay judicial staff adequate salaries to ensure that court officials were not so enticed by corruption as to fail to be just and fair.

    SOURCE: Guardian