NO SACRED COWS IN THE APPLICATION OF LAW- JUSTICE MAMBILIMA
Chief justice, Irene Mambilima says the true reflection of justice demand that judicial institutions operate independently without the interference from the powers that be.
Justice Mambilima says access to justice is a fundamental right, hence the need to guarantee every person access to an independent and impartial process and the opportunity to receive a fair and just trial.
She explains that Zambia, like any other country with a people driven constitution applies the rule of law in the application and enforcement of the law which implies that every person is subject to the law, including lawmakers, law enforcement officials, as well as judges.
She however noted that a number a people especially in the rural areas still face challenges in accessing justice owing to legal fees.
She explains that the country’s legal aid system does not sufficient capacity to assist all people who are unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system.
The Chief Justice however remains optimistic that the Zambian government will find a solution to some the challenges that courts face in order to realise SDG 16.
The chief justice was speaking in The Hague, Netherlands during a dialogue discussion which she co-presented with Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana Sophia Akuffo on the importance of justice for sustainable peace and development.
“The rule of law is simply the way it is. For example, Zambia has a constitution which is the product of the people, and under that constitution, laws have been made, and both the governance and the governed are subject to the same law. so, whoever contravenes the law are subject to that law.
There are no sacred cows in the application of the law, It’s the rule of law, not the rule of men therefore the law is paramount. So regardless of your social status, whether a lawmaker, law enforcement official or even a judge, when you break the law, you through the same process of trail and access to justice like any other.
The challenges of delayed justice in Africa are real. To me I think justice will be meaningless if it takes you so long to get through judicial systems and that is why I have appointed a special committee to tackle this issue by reducing delay and backlog where and so far the results have been phenomenal. However there is still more to be done in case management especially with the help of technology”, the Chief Justice explains.
The Chief Justice, together with 7 other Chief Justices and senior advocates from selected African countries are in the Netherlands on a working visit of Chief Justices from Africa.
The four- days meeting which has been organised by the African Foundation for International Law – AFIL, African Institute of International Law, The Hague Peace and Justice, as well as the Netherlands Enterprise Agency -RVO.nl is expected to address key issues in relation to judicial systems in Africa including cutting edge insights on how to advance access to justice globally and types of proceedings and divisions in customary, informal, and formal approaches.
Phyllis Chilekwa (Ms)
First Secretary – Press and Public Relations
Embassy of the Republic of Zambia
Brussels – Belgium