Weed out corrupt judges, lawyers-petitioner

There is a syndicate of Judges and lawyers who are clandestinely conniving with litigants to pass for themselves favorable judgements thereby eroding the credibility of the judiciary and compromise the justice system, petitioners to the Legal and Justice Sector Reforms have charged.

Petitioners Lawrence Mulenga and political activist Dante Saunders have charged that the syndicates of the Judges and lawyers in connivance with litigants had often resulted into citizens being charged under  laws born from repealed laws.

Mr Mulenga has submitted to the Legal and Justice Sector reforms Commission that the Judiciary needs reforms because there is a syndicate of justices and lawyers conniving with litigants to pass judgments in their favour.

Making a submission before the commission chaired by Justice Fredrick Chomba in Mtendere yesterday, Mr Mulenga said there is a likelihood that syndicates have gone to an extent of possessing courts stamps.

Mr Mulenga recommended that the commission should consider cleansing the judiciary and bring on board people of high moral standing and integrity which over the years had been eroded because of corruption and syndicates.

“In order for the nation to attain desired goals under this commission, we must not continue to hiding our heads in the sand. We are having syndicate operations in our courts of laws involving justices, lawyers and indeed law enforcement wings. Because of the syndicates, some court justices are going to the extent of even passing their responsibilities of the preparation of judgments to the litigants through their lawyers,” he said.

Mr Mulenga said under syndicate schemes, the judgments were voluminous and inside the judge plays with exhibited facts adding that such matters were usually ordered for trial.

He said because of the above syndicates, civil suits were initiated against suits which moved faster at the expense of criminal suits.

“This commission has to bite the bullet by cleansing our justices, by laying off everyone in the judiciary and those with clean hands let them re-apply on the understanding that their moral conscious is above board. The Chief Justice, who is the controller of the Judiciary, should be acting on the justices’ conduct regarding complaints and support the Judicial Complaints Commission so that it should be expanded to included morally upright people from all walks of life,” he submitted.  He said the commission should recommend the opening up of bottlenecks under Zambia Institute for Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE) so that the country could have more lawyers to pick from.

And Mr Saunders said in his submission to the Legal and Justice Sector Reform that some people had been convicted under charges emanating from the repealed law.

“We have in the recent past witnessed people taken to court on charges grown from repealed laws and suspects are taken to defense lawyers would battle with prosecutor to seek clarification on whether or not it is in order for a person to be charged and tried under a repealed law,” he said.

Mr Saunders said the bad side of this charge is that, it put the burden of proof on the accused instead of the person who suspects to confirm his suspicion before making arrest.

“We feel this is against human right and we want the Legal and Judicial Reform Commission to address this issue because who fell victim are people who does not share same views with government especially the opposition political parties and individuals and organizations suspected to be sympathizers and supporters of the opposition deemed to a threat to the ruling party,” he said.

Mr Saunders said people feel that such a law hinders development and rights of opposition political parties and their sympathizers. He also said the judiciary should also be given constitutional powers not only to enforce by also to interpret the laws without fear or favor.

“For example, we want to see the recommendation for the appointment and firing of judges to be done by the commission also the recommendation for the person to the position of the head of the judiciary to be made by the judicial commission other than the head of state in consultation with members of the executive.”

He said it is regrettable that due to lack of judicial powers, unqualified persons have been appointed to influential position in the judiciary including that of the Director for Public Prosecution (DPP).