Green Party President Peter Sinkamba says attacks on the Judiciary by State House are extremely disturbing and frightening.
Mr Sinkamba said his party sees the attacks as not only a direct assault on the independence of the judiciary but also contemptuous of the principle of separation of powers by the Executive.
Mr Sinkamba who was commenting on the remarks by State House Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda who said the Judiciary should not attract unnecessary controversy when he appeared on The Sunday Interview.The Green Party leader noted that it is extremely disturbing and frightening because an independent and efficient court system is a corner stone of the rule of law.
Mr Sinkamba said in a democratic state like Zambia, none of the three powers of the State must act for their own narrow partisan interest but in the interests of the people as a whole.
“State House public attack on the Judiciary yesterday on the ZNBC Sunday Interview, through the Special Assistant for Press Amos Chanda, and the threat of purge, is extremely disturbing and frightening. As the Green Party we find this tactic only as a direct assault on the independence of the judiciary but also contemptuous of principle of separation of powers by the Executive.
“It is extremely disturbing and frightening because an independent and efficient court system is a corner stone of the rule of law. The key function of the judiciary is to adjudicate between members of society according to the rule of law. The goal of any independent and efficient court system must therefore be to ensure the fair and impartial adjudication of legal disputes, thereby protecting the rights and liberties of all persons seeking justice. However, if the judiciary is threatened by the appointing authority (the Executive) of the purge, that is extremely worrisome. What is more worrisome is the fact the basis for the attacks in this case the parliamentary election petitions are purely litigation between private citizens on a party interest.
“In a democratic state like Zambia, which is subject to the rule of law, none of the three powers of state must act for their own narrow partisan interest but in the interests of the people as a whole. All the three powers must act on the basis of, and within the limitations provided by law, not partisan interest, as demonstrated by the Special Assistant for Press Amos Chanda.”
He urged the Presidency to exercise maximum restraint and let the Judiciary remain independent to fulfill its role in relation to other powers of the state, society in general and other parties to litigations.
“An intrinsic element of the Judiciary’s duty is to decide cases impartially. Only an independent judiciary can decide effectively and impartially on the rights of all members of society, especially those groups that are vulnerable or unpopular. This is the major reason why judicial independence is the fundamental requirement that enables the judiciary to safeguard democracy and human rights.”
“This is not in any way support for a Judiciary that disregards the laws of the country and decorum of the institution. Rather, we support a judiciary that operates within the realm of the law, and where any one of its members runs afoul with the law and decorum, seek redress through laid down procedures.
We are mindful of the fact that independence of judges is not a prerogative or privilege granted in their own interest, but in the interest of the rule of law and of all those who seek and expect justice. In other words, judicial independence should be the cornerstone of the Judiciary because it is the only means by which judges’ impartiality is ensured. It is a pre-condition that guarantees all citizens of equality before the courts. It is the only means for citizens to keep a tab on the activities of the government and plays and an important role in the event of violation of Fundamental Rights. It is the most important feature of a democracy as it safeguards interests and the fundamental rights of the people.
“Our judiciary has tried, against all odds, and with meager resources to ensure fair and impartial adjudication, save for a few cases before the Judicial Complaints Commission. The Executive should not worsen public perceptions of the Judiciary through public attack, and threat to purge the judges the using the Kenya way on allegations of collusion and absurdity. There are better administrative channels established that the Executive can trigger, if they suspect of impropriety on the party of any judge rather than use a TV programme which can send wrong signals,” he said.