By Professor Matodzi
Harare, August 4, 2015 – SADC Chief Justices will gather in Zimbabwe at the end of this month for the Southern African Chief Justices’ Forum (SACJF) annual conference and annual general meeting (AGM).
18 Chief Justices from the SADC region and some from East Africa are expected to attend the three-day SACJF’s conference which will be held in the resort town of Victoria Falls under the theme “Guaranteeing the Right to a Fair Trial in Africa: Showcasing Best Practices from the region”.
The SACJF’s conference which is supported by the Africa Regional Programme of the International Commission of Jurists will seek to examine how jurisdictions in the region have used innovations to enhance fair trial rights in their countries and explore how reforms in appointment procedures of judges, judicial training initiatives, and other reforms in the sector have contributed towards achieving fair trial rights in various countries.
“The right to a fair trial is a basic principle of international human rights law, which is designed to protect individuals from the unlawful and arbitrary curtailment or deprivation of other basic rights and freedoms. Every person has the right to a fair trial both in civil and in criminal cases, and the effective protection of all human rights depends on the practical availability at all times of access to competent, independent and impartial courts of law which can, and will, administer justice fairly. The standards against which a trial is to be assessed in terms of fairness are numerous, complex, and constantly evolving. Similarly the measures or reforms, that maybe undertaken by any country to ensure realization of these rights are many,” the SACJF said in a statement.
The SACJF conference and AGM, which have previously been held in Botswana, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia will also provide space for judiciaries in the Southern and East Africa region to share achievements, best practices and innovations in justice delivery and create a platform for judiciaries that have excelled in a variety of areas to showcase their achievements.
Chief Justices and other judicial officers will focus their discussions on three sub-thematic areas namely fair trial rights in Africa, appointment procedures and judicial training.
20 High Court judges from the host organisation, the Judicial Service Commission of Zimbabwe are expected to attend the SACJF.
Judge President George Chiweshe made the disclosure in a memorandum issued Monday to High Court judges in Harare and Bulawayo.
“Judges on vacation duty during that period will not attend,” reads part of Chiweshe’s memorandum.
Some of the local judges nominated to attend the SACJF include Justices, Chiweshe, Lawrence Kamocha, Charles, Hungwe, Chinembiri Bhunu, Joseph Musakwa, Nicholas Mathonsi and Samuel Kudya among others.