Jun 6, 2010

Justice

The Economist just published an interesting article about The International Criminal Court (ICC) trying to “demystify itself in Africa”. Uganda played host in a series of events last week that were intended to review the work of the ICC since its inception in 2002, and to demonstrate support for the court. “Thirty of Africa’s 53 countries have signed up to the ICC, the largest continental block among 111 signatory countries”. Read the full article.

I appreciate the purpose of the court – acting as the court of last resort to prosecute individuals responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This is an important role given the reality that some countries are unwilling or genuinely unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes.

So, I would contend that it’s a good thing for the ICC to send people into the field and explain their work, as the article suggests.

But what’s being done internally to strengthen national judicial systems in countries such as Zambia where we haven’t had to deal with war crimes that often result from war and disorder? I am sure Zambians are more concerned with local/national courts and the “justice” meted out. How do we restore confidence in our systems whereby people have the assurance that crimes reported to the police force will be handled in an impartial and professional manner, and if the cases proceed to court the same can be said for the lawyers and judges? 

All too often the neediest in our society have little chance of having a fair hearing in court in matters such as domestic violence, property inheritance, "defaming" the president, to mention but a few. This is where more work is needed.  

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