Judiciary needs N$1.9 billion for strategic plan

Home National Judiciary needs N$1.9 billion for strategic plan

WINDHOEK- The Office of the Judiciary needs N$1.9 billion to successfully implement its strategic plan over the four-year period 2018/19-2021/22.

According to the report released last week during the 2019 legal year opening at the Supreme Court in Windhoek by the Office of the Judiciary, the strategic plan will be executed through annual plans from which the conclusion of performance agreements will be cascaded to all staff members.

The strategic objective on the enhancement of public confidence in the administration of justice through the courts is supported by eight key performance indicators that are spread across the directorates under the department of judicial services.

These are high court cases disposed of within the disposal periods prescribed; customer satisfaction rate; high court and lower courts criminal cases clearance rates; criminal case backlog reduced; supreme court judgements delivered timeously; on-time delivery of reserved judgments in terms of the high court rules, and targeted public outreach programmes conducted.

President Hage Geingob last week raised concern over the slow pace of finalising cases in Namibian courts, having heard that only 49 percent of cases heard in the magistrates’ courts between January and September 2018 were finalised.  

Backlogs of criminal cases remain one of the leading challenges facing the Namibian justice system.
Other challenges such as the insufficient number of courtrooms, an unresponsive case management system and shortage of digital court recording equipment are directly blamed for the backlog of criminal cases in mainly the lower courts.
Other constraining factors include inhibitive police investigations and the recurrent shortage of judicial officers, prosecutors and administrative support personnel. 

Geingob, who opened the 2019 legal year at the Supreme Court, said he is aware of the public’s frustration with aspects of the criminal justice system, such as the long delays in the finalisation of cases in the lower courts.   
The statistics further show that during the same period, the total number of new cases stood at 13 045 compared to 2017 when the magistrates’ courts received 15 989 new cases on the court roll.

A record 81 426 cases were handled in 2018 between January and September when compared to 78 866 cases handled in 2017. When it comes to the finalisation of these cases, only 19 584 cases were finalised in 2018 between January and September, compared to 19 718 cases completed in 2017.

The finalisation rate indicates a slight drop during 2018, as it stood at 49 percent compared to 51 percent in 2017.
Geingob therefore urged all institutions involved in the criminal justice system to cooperate and coordinate their activities with the aim of ensuring that people are better served by the criminal justice system.  

In the strategic plan report, Chief Justice Peter Shivute said the Office of the Judiciary introduced a number of initiatives to improve the disposal rate of cases, modernise the courts and administrative processes aimed at improving efficiency and accessibility to justice.

“While we continued to make progress in these areas, we experienced some challenges in the administration of justice, which are areas of focus in this strategic plan. In this strategic plan, we have outlined the vision, mission and core values identified to help the office realise its constitutional and institutional mandate,” Shivute said.

Equally, he stressed the strategic plan covers key thematic areas that will help the judiciary system fulfil its constitutional mandate of providing efficient, effective, and fair justice for all.

Moreover, he said, as they unveil the development of the strategic plan, it is vital to note that its successful implementation will depend on the dedication and commitment of all judicial officers and staff members, as well as on the support of stakeholders and partners.