Thursday, May 23, 2024

Judges to be investigated for unprofessionalism 

The Government will set up a judiciary ombudsman to investigate magistrates and judges who are involved in corruption activities. This is according to the government white paper published recently, which is as a result of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Review of the Constitution of Botswana.  It states that the government agreed with the Commission that an independent Judiciary Ombudsman be established. The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) will also take part in the investigations of judicial officers who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. 

Says the government paper; “There was a proposal that measures be put in place to strengthen and hold magistrates and judges accountable with a view to curb corruption and malpractice in the judiciary. Government agreed to the proposal and noted the following.”

The proposal by the Commission states that although the Judicial Services Act and the Judicial Services (Code of Conduct and Enforcement Procedures) Regulations address issues of misconduct and integrity for judicial officers, the process can intimidate members of the public and that the general complaints procedure under regulation 14 of the Judicial Services (conduct and Enforcement Procedures) Regulations requires making complaint in writing to the Chief Justice under oath.

“DCEC must deal with issues of corruption in the judiciary as the Corruption and Economic Crimes Act provides for measures dealing with corruption,” the government said in response to the proposal by the Commission. 

On other issues, the government also agrees that the Chief Justice should have a fixed term of 15 years or until they reach 70 years old, whichever comes first, and they’ll get a pension according to the Judges Pension Act.

Furthermore, the government agrees to set up a committee to choose the Chief Justice and the President of the Court of Appeal. The President will suggest three candidates for each position, and then the Chief Justice or President of the Court of Appeal will be chosen from those candidates.

The white paper suggests some changes to how the judiciary is run. They propose that the Chief Justice should lead the Court of Appeal instead of the President of the Court of Appeal. They also suggest creating a new position called Deputy Chief Justice to replace the President of the Court of Appeal. The government agrees with these suggestions because they want to prevent any conflicts between the Chief Justice and the President of the Court of Appeal.

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