President Jakaya Kikwete yesterday called upon the public to safeguard and promote justice by supporting law enforcement agencies.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam during the celebrations to mark the National Law Day Kikwete said that people should always learn how to use legal institutions such as courts to secure their rights and stop taking law into their own hands, even if a person was suspected to have committed an offense.
He said the three pillars of the state should not step into one another’s jurisdictions and instead each one should work independently in performing its functions.
However he said that efficient delivery of justice depended on the integrity of the judicial staff, issuance of judgment copies on time and speeding up the hearing of cases, noting however that investigations, advocates, state attorneys, adjournment of cases also contributed to the delays.
He said the government will continue to increase the budget of the judiciary in order to increase efficiency and good governance.
The Deputy Attorney General George Masaju said the rule of law requires an autonomous judiciary which will be free in ensuring people get justice as in the Article 107A of the country’s Constitution.
He said according to Article 13 of the Constitution all people are equal before the law, thus it is the responsibility of the court to grant justice to the people regardless of their social status, economic backgrounds, religious differences, gender or political affiliations.
However he added that the Article 26 of the Constitution states that it is the responsibility of all people to obey the mother law and called upon the government to ensure that all people obey the laws.
For his part Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman said the rule of law can be strengthened by simple and open procedures which are understood by the people.
He said that the judiciary needs to safeguard justice without being given conditionalities which may lead to the failure to dispense justice.
The CJ said the current shortage of magistrates in the country is expected to be solved in three years, if the proposed employment of 600 resident magistrates annually is fully implemented.
He revealed that plans were underway to have a high court each in Ilala, Temeke and Kinondoni districts in Dar es Salaam in order to eradicate the centralised system and improve access to justice for the people.
He further revealed plans to ensure that there is a high court in every region of the country, pointing out that Coast, Morogoro, Lindi, Shinyanga, Kigoma, Mara, Singida and Manyara did not yet have the courts.
Others yet are the new regions of Geita, Katavi, Simiyu, and Njombe.
President of the Tanganyika Law Society Francis Stolla said the court system which is free and ethical is one of the crucial pillars in promoting the rule of law in any society.
He added that the media, private sector, religious and political affiliations were important actors who needed to be handled with care as they highly affect judicial freedom.
Stolla noted that for any justice system to be accepted and thrive, depended on the faith of the people, especially low income groups, in the rule of law. “If this faith is eroded, it leads to breakdown of the system,” he said, asking: “Are acts of people taking the law into their own hands a manifestation of loss of faith in the rule of law?”
“Who are involved in these acts? Are the institutions entrusted with the responsibility of delivering justice including the police force, courts, and we lawyers executing our work satisfactorily?” he asked.
He said equality of all people before the law is an important pillar for the rule of law, adding that the objective of the Tanganyika Law Society is to reach all the people, more so the low income people with free legal aid services funded by the government.
He however said the society did not have buildings to set up offices for the extension of the service.