Victoria Falls, November 29, 2015 – Zimbabwean judges and legal practitioners on Friday began meeting in the resort town here for a two-day retreat focusing on establishing and improving dialogue between the judiciary and lawyers on matters affecting justice administration in the country.
Commonly referred to as the Bar-Bench Colloquium, the Joint Zimbabwe Judicial-Legal Practitioners Colloquium, the conference convened by the Judicial Service Commission, the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) and the Africa Regional Programme of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is running under the theme “Access to Justice: Barriers and Solutions (A Bar-Bench Dialogue)”.
The Bar-Bench Colloquium comes at a time when Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku recently claimed that the judiciary is apolitical, impartial and upholds the highest professional standards in executing its duties.
The judiciary has in recent years been under the spotlight due to perceived persecution of independent judges among them Justice Charles Hungwe who was subjected to a media onslaught by the state-run Herald newspaper and the persecution of human rights lawyers including Beatrice Mtetwa, Alec Muchadehama, Mordecai Mahlangu and Kennedy Masiye.
The ICJ, which is composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, works to promote and protect human rights through the rule of law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems.
The ICJ says the Bar Bench Colloquium which it started supporting in 2009 has been an extremely important intervention in the justice sector in establishing ongoing dialogue between the judiciary and the LSZ on important matters in justice administration The colloquium has been significant in several ways including contributing to ending years of suspicion, mistrust and unproductive relations between the legal profession and the judiciary.