Extand 48-hour rule for court appearances: Nujoma

WINDHOEK: The constituted 48-hour rule which is the time frame for an arrested person to appear in the court of law should be increased to 72-hours after arrest, says Member of Parliament (MP), Utoni Nuyoma.

The Minister of Land Reform made these remarks during the debate on the second reading of the Judiciary Bill of 2015 in the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday.

The Bill is aimed at making Namibia’s judiciary system more independent and 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.

He said looking at the distance between the courts and some areas in the country, the 48-hour rule has to be extended to ensure that enough time is provided to ensure that appearances are made.

Nuyoma said because of the 48-hour rule, police officers are forced to not investigate criminal cases properly.

He said that because Namibia is a developing country, there is still a challenge with information and communication technology, therefore, police officers are still faced with a heavy burden to ensure that cases are thoroughly investigated.

Issues pertaining to legal aid, human resources, legal representation and delays in legal cases in Namibia’s judicial system took the spotlight during the debate in the NA on Tuesday.

Attorney General (AG) Sacky Shanghala defended the legal system saying Namibia has high quality legal and judicial offices.

He said the judicial system is high quality such that legal matters can be dispersed in one day, one month or in fifteen years, citing the recently ended treason trial.

‘People are more informed of their rights and that is why they can appeal and re-appeal cases,’ he said.

He added that delays of judgments in courts cannot be blamed on the judiciary system as the reality is that there are other factors that contribute to the clogging of the judiciary system.

The AG further noted that the judiciary system was clogged because the clerks, prosecutors and those who work in the courts are overworked, underpaid and receive no overtime.

Justice Minister, Albert Kawana also noted that some criminal cases never end up in court as police officers might conclude investigations that there is no case, and so can the prosecutor general.

He agreed with the AG that delays in court cases were not caused by the state, but due to reasons that arise like suspects that hire and fire their lawyer.

He noted that his ministry was looking into introducing a law that will mandate speedy trials.

He said there are cases that come before court, where the accused person are innocent and should be acquitted as soon as possible.

‘It is better to acquit a guilty party and sentence an innocent party,’ he said.