Govt to introduce local courts

Government plans to introduce local courts across the country to ensure that people in far flung areas have access to justice.

The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Honourable Bright Msaka SC said the introduction of these courts is in line with His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika’s determination to increase access to justice for all.

The minister announced this in Mulanje on Wednesday at the handover ceremony of newly rehabilitated magistrate courts in the district.

Apart from reducing distances people do travel to seek judicial services, the development will also help reduce pressure on magistrate courts as they will now focus on much more serious cases.

He said since the courts will be within arms reach, this will enhance democracy and promote the rule of law, and also help to address incidents of mob justice that are rampant across the country.

According to judicial authorities, the local courts will be manned by people that are chosen for their capacity, integrity and morals. The sentences that will be handed down in these courts will be in line with the provisions of the law.

On the rehabilitation of the some of the country’s courts, under the Chilungamo Programme being funded by the European Union, the minister said the exercise is taking place across the country in selected districts.

Apart from Mulanje, rehabilitation works have been completed in Mwanza,  Machinga, Mchinji and Nkhotakhota. Additionally, two other courts in Balaka and Chitipa are also undergoing rehabilitation.

“This day represents another milestone in the consolidation of our democracy. We are today climbing another step of the ladder towards our democratic ideal. With the opening of this newly rehabilitated court for the dispensation of justice, our democracy, which is founded on the rule of law, justice and equality, will today attain a new and more desirable level,” said Msaka.

Receiving the newly rehabilitated courts, the Honourable the Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda said justice and the rule of law enables social stability, and social stability, in turn, is the foundation of a happy and prosperous society.

As such, he said the Judiciary is alive to the fact that access to justice should never be a luxury and privilege for the elite, and that justice must be available to all when in need.

“Impression matters. A hostile looking environment is instantly depressing and to most people discouraging. It is therefore particularly important that all persons coming to court in pursuit for justice are met by a welcoming environment. Court houses are not just buildings. They are a symbol and face of justice. They represent how much we value justice and the rule of law,” said the Chief Justice.