Chief justices from the East African Community member states want to be officially involved in the activities of the bloc so they can help coordinate legal affairs and strengthen administration of justice in the region.
The chief justices said they are ready to offer legal solutions to “the controversies standing in the way of integration process.”
They said that the treaty which established the EAC envisaged judiciary cooperation but felt short of giving proper elaboration on the engagements.
The CJs resolved to revive the East African Community Chief Justices Forum (EACJF) to enable them engage with other arms of regional governments and the regional integration body.
The chief justices were in Nairobi for a consultative forum on enhancing regional collaboration in the administration of justice.
Those in attendance were David Maraga (Kenya), Ibrahim Juma (Tanzania), Bart Katureebe (Uganda), Omar Makungu (Zanzibar), Chan Madut (South Sudan) and Sam Rugege (Rwanda).
Somalia Chief Justice Ibrahim Suleiman attended as an observer. East African Chief Justices Forum President Emmanuel Ugirashebuja was also present.
They said EACJF, where the President of East African Court of Justice will also sit, will also help enhance judiciaries’ contribution to regional and national development, protection of rule of law and promotion of East Africa citizens’ well-being.
“We urge EAC partner states to include the EACJF as an official actor in the EAC processes particularly on the administration of justice, make the EACJF engagements part of the calendar of EAC activities, and provide for regular and structured direct consultations between the forum and the EAC on matters relating to the judiciaries,” they said in a joint communique after a two-day meeting, Nairobi.
They added: “We undertake to enhance inter-institutional dialogue by reaching out and exploring modalities for regular and continuous engagement with the executive and legislative arms.”
The chief justices also agreed to collaborate in the identification, implementation and sharing of experiences on innovative strategies to improve dispensation of justice through adoption of technology, institutionalisation of performance management and strengthening integrity mechanisms.
Each judiciary in the region is grappling with case backlog which the chief justices conceded has negative impact on delivery of justice hence the decision to scale up initiatives to address the situation.
“As part of strengthening judicial integrity and independence, we commit to improve mechanisms for accountability of judicial officers and staff and communication to the public on our work, “they added.
They, however, observed that current judiciary budgets in their countries is a serious drawback to delivery of quality and effective service to court users.
“ We resolve to continue engaging the legislative and executive arms of government to improve financial allocations and security for the judiciary, and to support the establishment and operationalisation of a Judiciary Fund or other mechanisms of ensuring financial autonomy of the judiciary,” they added
Source: – Daily Nation