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Judiciary urged to fast track criminal trials

THE Tanzanian Judiciary’s National Committee on acceleration of disposal of cases has resolved to push for expeditious determination of criminal trials, especially those which are pending in court for over 60 days to ensure accused persons get timely justice.

According to a statement issued by the Directorate of Information and Communication with Judiciary of Tanzania, the Committee held its session recently to review the cases in order to identify the reasons for the delays and take appropriate administrative action to expedite the hearing.

The National Committee is made up of various criminal justice stakeholders, headed by the High Court of Tanzania, Office of the Attorney G eneral (AG ), Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Office.

Other committee members, according to the statement published in the Judiciary’s Website, are Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Prisons Department, Immigration, the Tanganyika Law Society, and the Department of Social Welfare among others.

Opening the session held at the Training and Information Center located at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court, High Court Judge, Dr Bennhaji Masoud, called on all criminal justice stakeholders to recognize their direct contribution to reducing congestion and creating enabling environment for justice.

Dr Benhajj also called on stakeholders in the meeting to continue with the duty of providing justice for all and on time despite the challenge of corona disease.

“This disease is a challenge that we have to deal with through alternative means of hearings cases in courts to eliminate unnecessary congestion and overcrowding,” he said.

The judge appealed to participants to address the challenges at the national level, and called on criminal justice stakeholders to provide a concerted cooperation to facilitate the need of reducing the pilling up of cases, especially at regional and district levels.

“Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for courts and stakeholders is inescapable, especially in this period of corona virus spreading in congested environments. There is need for the Judiciary and its stakeholders to enhance efforts put in place through the E-Filing System,” he said.

The E-Filing system is a system gazette through G overnment G azette version No. 148 of 2018, enabling litigants to a case to file cases electronically instead of taking a court case file to a particular registry for filing process.

He added that the Court could not fulfill its role alone without the cooperation of the criminal justice stakeholders in advising and directing various high-level orders, challenging the courts, and in particular for the Committee to consider and advice on how best to determine cases expeditiously.

On her part, the Registrar of the High Court of Tanzania, Ms Sharmilla Sarwatt, said that the purpose of such meeting was to discuss how to manage and reduce the pilling up of cases in courts, especially during this period of corona virus outbreaks.

She cited mitigating tactics as conducting online criminal proceedings, the procedure of setting timetables of conducting hearing sessions to eliminate unnecessary congestion in court, and also to register cases in court once investigations are complete.

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Author: FAUSTINE KAPAMA

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