Sunday, July 12, 2009

Remarks by the Hon. Minister for Defence, Justice and Security at the 2009 Judicial Service Conference

source: Republic of Botswana (11/7/09) TAUTONA TIMES no 18 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline

B5) 9/7/09: Remarks by the Hon. Minister for Defence, Justice and Security at the 2009 Judicial Service Conference

Honourable Chief Justice, Honourable Judges of the High Court,
The Magistracy, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

1. I indeed feel honoured and privileged to perform the official opening of this Judicial Conference. I cherish every moment that gives me an opportunity to interact with you because I get to know your needs and desires, so I can cause government to provide for your needs in the best possible way.

2. I am informed that at this conference, the judiciary will take stock of its performance during the past year and chart the way forward for the year ahead.

3. In doing that I would urge you to look outside the Judiciary and see how other stake holders in the justice system have affected your performance and how they can improve their own systems. Likewise you will need to interrogate your system and see how it affects others that feed and draw out of it, and how these relationships can best be improved to provide quality service to the nation.

4. The theme of this conference can not be more appropriate, “Leveraging information technology and harnessing the Judicial Case Management for excellence in service delivery in the Administration of Justice”. It is so because the Administration of Justice is computerizing to improve efficiency and the government is in the process of establishing e-governance. We are in an information technology era and cannot possibly ignore its impact on our service delivery.

5. My Ministry is committed to assist the Administration of Justice to discharge its constitutional mandate. My Ministry’s commitment is and will be attested to by the provision of all the necessary amenities and infrastructure. These would include court buildings, adequate transportation, financial provisions to improve the human resource of the Administration of Justice and many other services that are vital for the effectiveness of the Judiciary.

6. My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Administration of Justice has grown significantly over the past 20 years. It is no longer a dream or a far cry for a citizen as far a field as Gumare or Masunga inter alia, to have magistrates presiding over cases in their villages. Currently most major population centres enjoy the presence of Judicial Services. It is my ardent hope and desire that such services be extended through out the country, and the quality of such services be improved and enhanced significantly. We thank God that we averted what would have been a significant set-back to the provision of quality service coupled with commensurate infrastructure in our judiciary. That is, the threat of cancellation of the construction of the Gaborone division of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

7. My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is common place that our economy is going through trying times with arguably the worst economic recession since World War II. Despite this, I can assure you that in my Ministry’s NDP 10 submissions, we have tried as much as possible to include Administration of Justice’s projects that would ensure that we take quality services to the people, as well as improve conditions of those that are key to the provision of such services. NDP 10 is currently being discussed in Parliament and I am optimistic that our projects will be approved as submitted.

8. I must, however note that government is concerned by the escalating crime in the country. While we are registering some relative decrease in selected crimes, there is a significant rise in house breaking, stock theft and store breaking offences. My Ministry has introduced some new strategies to combat this menace and the introduction of complementary institutions by the Administration of Justice such as the stock theft court, will go a long way in achieving significant crime reduction.

9. The introduction of the Judicial Case Management in February 2009 is yet another notable and valuable transformation in the Judiciary. I am told it has significantly brought down the backlog of cases at the High Court. While this has gone some way in restoring the Public Conference in the Judiciary, it will do a lot better if introduced fully to the magistracy. I note that significant efforts are being made to that effect.

10. My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me recognize the Honourable Chief Justice’s tireless efforts to improve the Judiciary. Your Lordship, I have interacted with you on numerous occasions and at all times you have come across to me as someone who does not accept less than yes when it comes to getting the best for the Judiciary. You have also expressed your concerns about certain of my Ministry’s requirements on the Judiciary as bordering on possible overstepping of our mandate. Sir, let me assure you that all is done in the spirit of making the Judiciary the best it can be. You know best how to do that and I know best how to facilitate you. We have one goal and we should work together to ensure the achievement of that goal.

11. In conclusion, let me on behalf of my Ministry and the Government and indeed on my own behalf, renew my pledge to support the Administration of Justice in its efforts to improve the Judiciary. Finally let me commend the Chief Justice and his team for shaping the Judiciary over the years into an institution of impeccable reputation and integrity, second to none.

12. It is now my honour to declare this conference officially open. May the Good Lord bless you and ensure that you have a wonderful and fruitful two days of deliberations. I thank you.

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