Cabinet passes Judiciary Bill with amendments

15 Oct 2015 17:00pm


Cabinet has passed the Judiciary Bill of 2015 with amendments aimed at making the judiciary more independent. The Bill seeks to amend the Judicial Service Commission Act, No 18 of 1995.

The Bill was submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and referred to the Cabinet committee on Legislation for further scrutiny, and further consultation with the OPM. It was then referred to the National Council for review after it was tabled in the National Assembly (NA) in July 2015.

Motivating the Bill in the NA on Wednesday, Minister of Justice Albert Kawana said after the Namibian Constitution was amended in 2014, a joint committee consisting of staff members from the Justice Ministry and the judiciary was established to work out administrative modalities aimed at enhancing the independence of the judiciary.

He said the Bill that was submitted for consideration by Cabinet is a product of joint efforts between his ministry and the judiciary. He highlighted that clauses five and six cover the powers and functions of the Chief Justice and the Permanent Secretary, respectively.

'The funds of the office of the judiciary shall be appropriated by Parliament. In addition, the funds may be supplemented by donations, which may be accepted in consultation with the minister responsible for finance. This is covered under clause 8 of the Bill," Kawana noted.

He said independence and judiciary must go hand in hand. This is also recognised in international instruments, human conventions, and the Namibian Constitution.

"The judiciary must be able to perform its pivotal function in interpreting the law and upholding the values that underpin it without fear or favour. This clearly means more than ensuring formal security of tenure of judicial officers and eradicating perception of bias."

The judiciary also requires a pro-active approach to institutional separation that ensures Namibia?s democracy enjoys a healthy system of checks and balances.

This in turn requires that the judiciary is independent and has a dedicated budget, he said.