“Ease joining of public interest cases”

A legal practitioner has proposed that any spirited person should be free to join any case of public interest by simply writing a letter to a judge.

But Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mutembo Nchito found the suggestion outside the terms of reference of the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission which is sitting in Lusaka.

Mr Mbushi however insisted that joining a case of interest falls on the Terms of Reference number 3 which stated that; “To inquire into the accessibility and affordability of Justice by citizens.”

He said Locus Standi should be loosened to allow any interested party to join a case of public interest.

Mr Mbushi said Zambia should follow the Indian justice system where they have done away with the requirement of Locus Standi to join a case of interest.

He said litigating on public interest was expensive and complex hence the need to simplify it so that even other citizens can be helped by bringing in anyone who could help. Earlier, Lusaka Lawyer Kelvin Bwalya submitted that judges should be chosen by an independent body without the Head of State’s participation.

However, Mr Bwalya said judges should not enjoy too much freedom in the dispensation of justice, especially in writing judgments.

He advised that there should be a time limit of three months after the case had been closed for the judge to write a judgment.

Mr Bwalya proposed that each judge should write their own judgment inspite of agreeing with all other judges on a particular judgment. He proposed that Zambia should adopt a marshal system where marshals were in charge of transporting suspects to and from prisons.

Mr Bwalya said this would allow Police and the Prison service to concentrate on their line of work.

“This will also help to sort out the issue of confusion of transport and management of suspects during trial,” he said.

And Zambia Voice Executive Director Chilufya Tayali proposed that the appointment of judges should not be done by the President to attain full autonomy of the judiciary.

He proposed that the appointment of judges should be done by a Judicial Commission and ratified by Parliament.

Mr Tayali said acting at any position on the bench should be well defined and short to avoid permanency of temporary.

He submitted that age on retired contracted officers should also be emphasized to avoid ambiguity.

The Zambian Voice executive director noted that due to resource constraints, Zambia cannot employ so many judges.

He however suggested that Zambia can invest in helpers to assist the judges to do their jobs.

“We propose that judges be fronted with at least two legal officers who would go through cases to make sure they are in order and satisfying all procedural requirements. They can also help with a bit of research on cases,” Mr Tayali said.

He suggested that the judicial system in Zambia should look at the consciousness of the poor.