Link justice system to Constitution: Petras

The justice system is one of the most controversial, conflict-ridden areas in Zimbabwe says Irene Petras, Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Irene Petras, Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Irene Petras, Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

She called for clearer linkages between the justice system and the Constitution. Petras told The Zimbabwean that unless government invested in strong institutions, good systems, proper case management and transparency in how the judiciary system operates, it would continue to fail its citizens in the provision of justice.

She also called for increased collaboration between the police and the justice delivery system, saying “There is a lot of collaboration between the justice ministry and civil society organisations on justice related issues, but the police are the missing link in this whole equation. The police are the root cause of the rule of law issues and they should be engaged.”

According to a 2014 research produced by the ZLHR and the Law Society of Zimbabwe entitled ‘Pre trial Detention in Zimbabwe’, there is a huge number of pre-trial detainees due to inefficiencies in the justice delivery system.

The report attributes this to the direct and indirect political control of the criminal justice system, which has compromised the independence and neutrality of key institutions such as the police, the Attorney-General’s office and the judiciary.

“Severe underfunding, capacity constraints and poor conditions of service among institutions within the justice delivery system have also contributed to increasing inefficiency in case flow management, which has resulted in unnecessarily prolonged stays for many pre-trial detainees,” read the report, adding that this was a direct violation of inmates’ rights.

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