Lawyers want transparency as Samia appoints judges
- The appointment of 22 judges is the largest number of High Court judges ever appointed at one time and this promises cutting case backlogs significantly
Dar es Salaam. Lawyers have applauded the appointment of 22 High Court judges by President Samia Suluhu Hassan while suggesting reforms that will make the process more transparent than it is now.
According to a statement issued yesterday, government lawyers, senior magistrates, independent lawyers and university professors are among the people appointed to deliver justice.
This the largest number of High Court judges ever appointed at one time.
Last May, President Hassan appointed seven justices of the Court of Appeal and 21 judges of the High Court.
Former President Jakaya Kikwete had appointed 20 judges in August 2014 – the largest in his tenure.
The lawyers, activists and politicians who commented yesterday said the appointment is an important step in speeding up the delivery of justice, but wanted the process to be improved.
“This step will reduce the backlog of cases at the High Court, but we would like to see the appointment process becoming more efficient. Those who want the position should apply and their records are made public, as it’s in Kenya,” said senior independent lawyer, Dr Rugemeleza Nshalla.
Dr Nshalla, who was once the president of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) also expressed dissatisfaction with the small number of independent lawyers appointed as judges.
According to him, only two independent lawyers were appointed judges.
President Hassan also made history by selecting more women judges at the same time than his predecessors. Some 10 of the 22 appointed judges are women.
Another senior lawyer, Francis Stolla, said that the appointed judges have the qualifications of judges specified in the constitution and that their increasing number will help to reduce the backlog of cases.
According to Article 109 (7) a person can only be appointed as an employee of the High Court if he has the qualifications to be a lawyer.
These qualifications include that he must have a first degree in law recognized by the accreditation authority and also be a person who has passed the Council of Legal Education (CLE) examinations.
Chadema secretary general John Mnyika was disappointed with the appointment of members of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC).
“Judges Award” wrote Mr Mnyika in his Twitter account linking the duo with the 2020 election “irregularities.”
But, Mr Stolla says the appointment cannot disrupt justice dispensing process provided they abide by the laws.
“The Constitution has a doctrine known as the independence of the judiciary,” he said adding that it’s a fundamental principal of the rule of law.
“In order for the Judiciary to be independent, Judges should be given responsibilities by the Court and not the government,” he added.
He said their salaries come from the consolidated fund, they have been given security of tenure, all of which constitute the independence of the Judiciary, therefore they are not expected to work with favouritism.
Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC’s) Fulgence Massawe said the appointment will reduce cases accumulations, “The best thing in the appointment is observation of the gender balance,” he said.