, ARUSHA, Tanzania, Nov 11 – Judicial institutions across Africa have pledged to put in place mechanisms which will strengthen access to justice for all, while ensuring respect to human and people’s rights.
Chief Justices and other top judges who converged in Arusha for the second Judicial Dialogue noted the need to ensure the protection of human rights across the continent, in line with their countries’ respective constitutions and international obligations – which they have ratified.
Tanzania’s Chief Justice Mohammed Chande Othman said that even though many jurisdictions in the continent were in the process of implementing Judicial Reform Programmes aimed at strengthening the rule of law, much more needs to be done.
“I must confess, however, that a lot still remains to be done in order to ensure a more effective and efficient penal, correctional and rehabilitative and communal services as well as to reinforce full respect of human and people’s right as stipulated in our constitution and regional and international instruments, of which Tanzania is a state party,” he said.
He said this will improve “efficiency and timeliness in the dispensation of justice and strengthening the independence and integrity of the judicial branch of government.”
“An anchor in these reform initiatives and programmes was also to ensure access to justice for those seeking judicial resolution of disputes,” he said at the dialogue hosted by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).
In Tanzania, he said, the criminal justice system “continues to undergo constant reform to ensure compliance with national, regional and international law obligations, jurisprudence and best practices.”
The African Court’s President Justice Augustino Ramadhani urged judicial institutions across the continent to protect human rights.
Dr Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs at the African Union Commission reiterated the African Union’s commitment towards the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.
“The union upholds a powerful vision of a united, integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and playing a dynamic role in the international arena,” she said, in a speech delivered on her behalf by Dr Khabele Matlosa who heads the Political Affairs department at AU.
“Integral to this noble vision is the imperative on the part of AU member states to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights,” she said, citing Africa Agenda 2063, a fifty-year recently adopted by AU to guide the continent’s development path.
Justice Elsie Nwanwuri Thompson, Vice President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights stressed the need to nurture a “good culture of human rights in the African continent”.