NAIROBI, November 20 – Judges within East Africa are planning to improve access to justice by members of the public through quick resolution of cases.
In an interview with Capital News, East African Judges Association President David Wangutusi said there is need to improve the capabilities of judges and other judicial officers to safeguard the integrity of the courts.
“If we are going to promote democracy, then we must have an efficient judiciary with skilled officers. We must have good, cooperative and understanding court support staff. Therefore we must train and lead a life that is impeccable,” Justice Wangutusi said.
He said the judges were also considering engaging in research activities, writing and publishing articles for use by the public.
“Our purpose is to improve access to courts, reduce the amount of time that cases stay in court, and therefore increase access by people who use our courts,” he said.
He noted that all these efforts were aimed at making justice accessible to all people and was expected to improve both the capacity of judicial officers and their integrity geared towards promoting the rule of law.
“To succeed in all these, we must just improve our officers,” he said.
Justice Wangutusi spoke after attending a meeting with 27 judges, magistrates and court registrars from across the East African region who met Chief Justice Evan Gicheru on Thursday at the High Court in Nairobi.
The Ugandan High Court judge meanwhile decried inefficiency within the East African justice systems saying complaints had been raised against the institutions and it was time action was taken.
Earlier at the High Court, Chief Justice Evan Gicheru advised lawyers to guard against being over ambitious in practicing law saying everything comes with experience.
Speaking during the admission of 70 new lawyers to the roll of advocates, Justice Gicheru urged the new entrants to gather relevant experience and exposure saying that was a recipe for a successful career path in litigation.
“Don’t be over ambitious. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Get the relevant experience and exposure. And you will be well on your way to a successful career as a litigation lawyer,” Justice Gicheru told the lawyers.
He also encouraged them to exercise economy in speech saying verbosity had continuously hampered expedition of cases and in other situations amounted to a waste of time.
“Seek to convey the impression that you do not want to take a moment longer than necessary. Do not however appear rushed or agitated,” the Chief Justice advised.
He in the meantime impressed upon all legal practitioners not to underestimate the intelligence of judges, saying that amounted to arrogance.