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Reforming Ethiopia’s Justice System
The justice system in Ethiopia has generally been characterized by delays in dispensation and a lack of institutional capacity in both law enforcement and the judiciary. Dispositions of criminal cases were so delayed that rights granted by the constitution could not be implemented.
Some of the most crucial problems in the justice system included severe shortages of trained professionals and qualified personnel; lack of essential facilities in institutions of justice, the inability of law schools to produce competent lawyers in the desired numbers; outdated and inefficient methods and procedures of the system in delivering justice; court congestion and delays; obstacles in the promotion and protection of human and democratic rights; and inefficient systems of law enforcement.
In an effort to address these and other issues facing the justice system, the Ethiopian government supported by the World Bank and several bi-lateral donors initiated the Justice System Reform Program as part of the Public Sector Capacity Building Support Project in 2004. The program aims to:
* Enhance the effectiveness of law-making organizations and affiliated bodies;
* Improve the effective delivery of justice by judicial organizations;
* Advance efficient law enforcement;
* Train legal professionals and researchers; and
* Put in place an efficient system of justice.
The program includes activities for the judiciary, House of People’s Representatives, House of Federation, police, prisons, prosecution and other justice institutions at the federal and regional level.
Since the program’s launch, it has registered some encouraging results. Thanks to improvement in the quality and efficiency of operations in the judiciary, the annual clearance rate of cases has been maintained at above 80 percent in federal and sub-national supreme courts.
A “real-time dispatch” system has been put in place in regions, allowing judgment and sentencing to be undertaken within one day, in petty offence cases where there is a clear identification of the crime and the culprit.
The program has also established an interactive voice response system to provide instant information on pending cases to clients from wherever they are. Within a year of its establishment, the number of citizens using the system has increased from an average of 30 to over 300; thereby enhancing access to information on pending cases and reducing the cost of justice.
The program has also helped to increase the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as social courts; use of video conference facilities to hear over 500 sub-national cases a year; and the use of web-based services at the federal Supreme Court level.
Reforming Institutions and Building Capacity
In order to make their work more efficient, several institutions are participating in the program and have undertaken a process called Business Process Reengineering, incorporating revised lawmaking procedures, public hearings and three-step reading, which requires that any legislation be placed before Parliament on three occasions, once to agree its overall purpose; once to agree the detail of the legislation and once to finally pass the legislation into law . The institutions include the federal Ministry of Justice, the House of Representatives, House of Federation, the police and prison administration.
Local communities are also benefiting from the program. In some regions, prosecution from input to output is now organized as a “one stop shop,” and police and prosecutors are working together to ensure more effective administration of justice.
These actions have resulted in improvements in case processing times. A formerly lengthy process now enables the police to receive information on cases or complaints within 20 minutes; conduct investigations within 10 hours: undertake fresh criminal proceedings within five days: conduct appeals proceedings within two days and cassation proceedings within 10 days.
Community policing also has been initiated and training to trainers and officers has been extensively provided. This has resulted in improvements in the skills and attitudes of penitentiary staff, for instance, including in their knowledge of human rights. The program has also improved services to prisoners across several regions in food, sanitation and educational and vocational skills.
The Justice System Reform Program is part of the World Bank’s Public Sector Capacity Building Program (PSCAP). PSCAP has been able to enhance transparency and accountability through increased access to justice information. One way, is though the establishment of over 430 client information counters in courts across the nation. These counters make information available to the public on both individual cases and the judiciary in general. Bench judgments are being published and disseminated; and a wide range of information about the court, including court judgments and proclamations, is now published on the web site.
Ha,Ha,Ha! What a joke another World Bank ruse to help out its client, Meles Zenawi. So the World Bank wants to give money to Meles with a new pretext! As long as the money keeps coming in, they don’t run out of excuses to give Meles more! I hope the Ethiopian people are keeping a tab on what the World Bank is doing to them!
The Country is in real path towards Democracy and fast development and it is our National duty to contribute in the field of our expertise . God bless Ethiopa
Toe the party line, and you are a free man.
State a view that is in any way opposes the TPLF plan for Ethiopia, end up in jail.
Happy World Press Freedom Day!
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