The Judiciary of Tanzania has improved systems and regulations to expedite dispensation of justice. It has also improved use of technology, and built capacity in management and auditing.
In this second part of article on implementation of the Five-Year-Strategic Plan, Staff Writer FAUSTINE KAPAMA reports on achievements made on a second feature on access and timely delivery of justice. THE Judiciary of Tanzania has reviewed, revised and drafted various rules, guidelines and procedures to remove barriers or delays in dispensing of justice.
The measures include making changes of the Civil Procedure Code (Amendments of the First Schedule) Rules, 2019 Government Notice (GN) No. 381/2019. This introduced electronic judicial services, thus, leading to reduction of steps in dealing with litigations from 38 to 21.
The Judiciary has also prepared code of conducts, the Advocates II(Professional Conduct and Etiquette) Regulations, GN 118 of 2018. There is also Rules for submitting court documents through the electronic filing, the Electronic Filing Rules, GN 148 of 2018.
There is revised Criminal Procedure Act (Approved Forms) Notice, GN 429 of 2017 and Court of Appeal Rules, 2017 to simplify proceedings in the Court of Appeal; revising rules of Court Broker and Process Servers (Appointment, Remuneration and Discipline) Rules, 2017) to enhance their effectiveness.
The Corruption Economic and Organized Crime Control Rules, 2016 were also revised to have a systematic approach to dealing with suspects of these crimes. There was also revision on the Law of the Child (Juvenile Court Procedure) Rules, 2016 in relation to handling of juvenile cases.
Ability to listen and determine cases under the relevant period has increased from 2015 to 100 per cent in 2019 while the court disposed of 271,214 cases among 272,326 filed in 2019. This has led to an increase in satisfaction of justice delivery system from 57 per cent in 2015 to 72 per cent in 2019.
In recognizing its contribution to implementing the vision of transforming Tanzania into an industrialized economy, the Judiciary of Tanzania has prioritized cases relating to land, commercial disputed related projects, corruption and economic sabotage.
For example, according to a report on the success of implementation of the strategic plan 2015/16-2019/20, as of December 2019, about 47 billion US dollars’ worth of tax disputes have been completed at the Court of Appeal’s level along with 89 economic cases worth 44bn/-.
Over the past five years, the Judiciary has succeeded in its programme of clearing case backlog in court from 12 per cent of the 96,852 cases remained at the end of December 2015 to five per cent at the end of December 2019 out of the remaining 68,648 cases.
Among these cases it is 3,085 cases that are considered as backlog for staying in court for over two years. The pilling up of these cases is at the High Court and the Court of Appeal. However, there are no cases pending for more than 12 months in the Resident Magistrate’s and District Courts or more than six months’ cases before the Primary Courts.
In implementing its approach to speeding up the cases as well as reducing costs of cases processing, the Judiciary of Tanzania has successfully conducted court sessions using Video Conference technology through several devices installed in various locations.
The equipment have been installed at the High Court Zones in Dar es Salaam, Bukoba and Mbeya, the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court, the Keko Prison and the Lushoto Institute of Judicial Administration, among other centres. Several cases have already been heard using this system in the Court of Appeal.
There are also a lot of criminal proceedings have been conducted between the Kisutu Court and the Keko Prison, as well as Segerea prison, while nine other cases involved witnesses from British, US, China and Nairobi countries were also heard through this system.
Through this process, there has been reduction of cost and time of the parties, thus, providing them an opportunity to spend money that would have been used to finance the disposal of the cases and time in economic activities to promote social well-being and for their own benefits.
In addition, over this short period of time, the Court has also been able to spend a small amount of not more than 10m/- to conduct case sessions and saved approximately 340m/- which would have been used to conduct these sessions in the usual way.
Regarding the increasing access to justice for citizens, as of 2016 the Judiciary of Tanzania has supervised major changes in moving justice services closer to the public.
High Court services are currently available in 16 Regions among 26 in the Mainland Tanzania, while there are about 18 Resident Magistrates Courts, 111 District Courts in 139 districts and 864 Primary Courts out of 3,963 available wards in the country.
The Judiciary has also succeeded in increasing access to justice to special and needy groups by developing rules and procedure in cases involving vulnerable groups. Such rules include the Judicature and Applications of Laws (Practice and Procedure in cases involving Vulnerable Groups) Rules, 2019.
There is also strengthening of the rights of children by building a Juvenile Court in Mbeya City and making the number of these buildings to two, the other being at Kisutu-Dar es Salaam. The goal is to create a foundation for sustainable development based on the rights of children.
Establishment of Mobile Court Services has made Tanzania in Africa to become the first country to run this service. This is also a notable achievement that has been recorded. During this period of trials in the regions of Dar es Salaam and Mwanza already positive results have been achieved.
This includes hearing of different cases, which takes shorter days to be determined. The mobility of this court service has eliminated the difficulties faced by citizens of long-distance travel as well as using high costs of pursuing court services in the common courts that are far from their places of residence.
Through this court now a citizen receives services in his or her neighbourhood or a centre where he or she lives, thus saving the time spent by wananchi waiting for services in court and instead spent that time doing other economic activities and increasing their income.
Regarding improvements of courts infrastructure in both urban and rural areas, the Judiciary has successfully renovated the Integrated Justice Centre in Mbeya High Court Zone and also construct High Court buildings in Kigoma and Musoma Regions.
Constructions of 16 modern Resident Magistrate’s and District Courts buildings at low cost through Moladi Technology have been completed. Resident Magistrate’s Court buildings are at Kibaha, Geita and Simiyu. District Court buildings are at Kigamboni, Bagamoyo, Mkuranga, Ilala, Chato, Bukombe, Ruangwa, Kilwa, Longido, Kondoa and Chunya.
Completed construction and commenced operation of Primary Court buildings at Kawe, Karatu, Mvomero, Benzo, Totowe, Robanda, Loliondo, Iguguno, Old Korogwe, Itinje, Magoma, Mkunya and Uyo are another achievements made.
All these courts provide justice services in a collaborative court system, meaning that they involve other stakeholders such as state attorneys and private advocates, social welfare officers, among others. The presence of these courts in those areas has reduced the distance that citizens were forced to pursue court services away from the places they live.
It has also reduced the costs and time spent waiting for such court services. For example, the distance for citizens of Mara Region to follow High Court services in Mwanza Region has been reduced by approximately 270 kilometres and four hours by travelling in a car.
While for their counterparts from Kigoma Region, the distance has been reduced to approximately 413 kilometres or using six hours travelling in a vehicle to get judicial services at Tabora High Court. There has been also strengthening on the area ofmanagement and monitoring of court operations and services.
The area of management and judicial service review has shown positive results from the improvement of management systems and the handling of citizen complaints. The rate of services provided by the judiciary has increased from 61 per cent in 2016 to 78 per cent in 2019, according to a 2019 court user survey report.
Citizens receiving court services expressed satisfaction by 87 per cent with the hospitality and the manner they were served by court staff. Furthermore, telecommunications systems have been shown to be productive for the public, with 86 per cent expressing satisfaction with the use of the telephone in submitting their complaints.
About 94 per cent of complaints received have been addressed and resolved through a good complaints management system through 304 mobile phones (SMS and WhatsApp services) distributed at all levels of courts as well as at regional and district head offices and also strengthening of desks complaints.
In the area of hearing case services, 82 per cent of parties in the cases expressed satisfaction with the way they were served by Judges and Magistrates during determining of cases in court.
As regard to the improvements on the use of technology in record management, there has been elimination of misplacement of case files at different levels of court and enabling timely access to judicial documents.
The Judiciary has improved the registry and documentation management by transferring 296,935 completed case records and keeping them in the National Records Centre in Dodoma. This has resulted in easy access to various court files, including those of pending cases.