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By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, April 17, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- As regional integration deepens and widens, the Chief Justice of Tanzania His Lordship Mohamed Chande has called for vigorous judicial reforms in the region so as to deliver efficient, effective and timely justice to the citizens of East Africa.

He said this would restore credibility and trust of judiciaries in the Partner States and address the lukewarm approach towards judicial reforms and the proper servicing of the economic and monetary integration process.

“We should not allow judicial reforms to remain as an unplanned agenda. It is a real challenge,” His Lordship Chande said when opening the 16-17 April third EAC Chief Justices Forum in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

The Chief Justice pointed out that what the judiciaries in all EAC Partner States have been offering so far is less than what is required from them or what is legitimately expected by the increasingly informed public.

“One affidavit, which goes to substantiate public frustration with justice delivery, including the overall performance of law enforcement agencies, is mob justice,” he added, underling that this was an affront to the rule of law, but also mirrored a gap in judicial performance.

He advised that judicial officers in East African countries need to be more conversant with EAC laws, including different stages of the integration.

“How many of our judicial officers can be said to be conversant with Community laws?” he asked the audience comprising judges, magistrates and judicial officials from Partner States and the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).

The meeting is also attended by the high-ranking judicial officers from the UN-International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Institute for Security Studies of South Africa, among others.

EAC Deputy Secretary General (in-charge of Political Federation), Hon. Beatrice Kiraso said that empowerment of the region's judicial mechanism to deal with integration issues was critical especially at this stage of integration that involves free movement of factors of production.

She commended EACJ for taking the initiative to interpret matters related to the EAC Treaty in spite of various institutional and operational challenges.

The EAC official rallied for the extension of the EACJ's jurisdiction to include matters like human rights violations, saying that EACJ would offer a convenient alternative where citizens are skeptical of the national judicial mechanism.

Among papers to be deliberated upon at the two-day meeting are those on global trends on judicial reforms and a report of the study on the challenges of electoral justice in the eastern and southern African regions.

The delegates will also share experiences on national judicial reforms in the Partner States with a view to borrowing best practices and harmonizing some of them. Justice Philip Tunoi from Kenya is the chair of the session.