KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, MRS. PENDUKENI IIVULA-ITHANA AT THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE FORUM OF NAMIBIA
HELD ON 05TH AUGUST 2010 AT SAFARI HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTRE
OMATAKO ROOM 1
Honorable Prosecutor – General, Adv. Imalwa
Honorable Ombudsman, Adv. J. Walters
Distinguished Lt. General Ndeitunga – Inspector General
Distinguished Director of the Anti Corruption Commission – Mr. P. Noa
Distinguished Permanent Secretary – M.O.J- Mr. S. Katjiuanjo
Distinguished Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Safety & Security- Mr. S. Goagoseb
Distinguished Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance – Ms. Erica Shafudah
Distinguished Deputy Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Health & Social Services – Dr. Foster
Distinguished Acting Dean of the UNAM Faculty of Law – Mr. F. Nghishiililwa
Distinguished Government Attorney – Ms. C. Machaka
Distinguished Master of High Court – Ms. E. Beukes
Distinguished Director of Law Society, Ms. R. Steinmann
Distinguished Chief Lower Courts - Mr. P. Unengu
Distinguished Deputy Director of Legal Aid – Ms. P. Daringo
Distinguished Chief of Law Reform – Mr. J. Namiseb
Distinguished Drafters Representative – Mr. Micheal Fred
Distinguished Financial Intelligent Centre Representative – Ms. L. E. Dunn Distinguished NFSI Representative – Dr. P. Ludick
Distinguished Legal Practitioners present,
Distinguished Media Practitioners,
Ladies and gentlemen.
I feel greatly honoured, to officiate at this very momentous occasion, the realization of the National Criminal Justice Forum of Namibia. Indeed, the initiators of this forum and the role players who have committed themselves to this ideal can be proud today, as they have succeeded, and their relentless efforts rewarded, because they kept on trying to get this forum to come to life and to be operational. This is being realized today. Therefore, this gathering is prestigious in its importance and I cannot but agree with the renowned writer, John Maxwell when he says, “Success is achieved and maintained by those who keep trying.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, what is important in the eyes of the public when it comes to the Administration of Criminal Justice is the effective, efficient, institution, conducting and conclusion of criminal proceedings.
The major constraint in this undertaking currently and which undermines the promotion and achievement of justice in our country is that all the stakeholders who are involved in the justice system are operating in isolation. There is no coherence in decision making and each office operates separately and without complementing each other in order to complete the goal of the justice system in the country. This has ultimately resulted in an ineffective , Criminal Justice System.
It was in the light of the above scenario that a need was identified to follow a comprehensive and all embracive efforts of a unified approach to the fight against crime by all stakeholders. Pursuant to this approach all stakeholders in the criminal justice system have created a forum consisting of the role-players at the highest level of the institutions they represent. This endeavour has Cabinet blessing as the way forward in the fight against crime in the country.
The National Criminal Justice Forum consists of members drawn from inter alia: the Namibian Police, the Prison Services, the Prosecution Authority, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), Judiciary, the Directorate of Legal Aid, the Law Society, Non-government organisations, Legal Assistance Centre, the Ministries of Finance, Gender, Equality and Child Welfare, Health and Social Services just to mention a few.
From these stakeholders, a Steering Committee consisting of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, a Secretariat and other ten (10) members is formed.
Director of ceremonies,
The main objective of the National Criminal Justice Forum is to look into the problems affecting our Criminal Justice System, come up with solutions to solve such problems and where necessary, make recommendations to the government on how the system should be improved.
I am particularly happy that by creating such a forum, Namibia will be at par with other justice systems in the world where such institutions have been established for example the National Criminal Justice Board in the United Kingdom, the National Joint Committee in Canada, and the Integrated Justice System for South Africa. The importance of this practice is to co-ordinate the activities pertaining to the fight against crime. It is quite apparent from the information available that the creation of a body as we did, is in line with the principle that none of the agencies within the criminal justice system can operate in isolation and that all agencies must maintain strong and efficient communication, consultation and coordination with each other to ensure that the criminal justice process is effective.
The creation of the National Criminal Justice Forum comes at an opportune time, as crime is on the increase in our country. At the center of our responsibility to society in general lays the effective and efficient instituting, conducting and concluding of criminal proceedings in a reasonable and predictable short time. Increased communication, understanding and cooperation among the police, the court officials and correctional service authorities will go a long way in achieving this goal.
The stakeholders to the National Criminal Justice Forum need to be proactive. The perpetrators of crimes must swiftly be brought to justice. Our women and children must not only be told that they are protected but must feel that they are protected. The innocent must know that justice will prevail. One thing we should remember is that we are not living on an island; we are serving a nation where democratic rules must apply. We can only achieve the goal of serving our people without fear or favour if we join hands and take a united stand against crime.
Ladies and gentlemen, the launch of the National Criminal Justice Forum is a significant achievement in our young democracy. It indicates the seriousness with which men and women in the Criminal Justice System take transformation and access to justice.
When we talk of judicial transformation and access to justice, we are talking about three issues in particular. We want to ensure that even the poorest of the poor do enjoy access to justice.
Our people need to have access to a high standard of justice that is attained without undue delay. The people of Namibia have been struggling for a just society where human rights and the rule of law, which are the fundamental pillars of a Constitutional democracy is observed at all cost.
This can only be achieved if we have an improved access to justice system that addresses inter alia, procedures and processes. This should include physical access to courts, and the provision of some form of legal aid to ensure that lack of financial resources does not hamper access to the justice system.
Director of Ceremonies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I urge all the members of the forum to work harder in order to deal with the perception members of the community have that the rights of criminals are prioritized above those of the of the victims. This boils down to the issue of access to justice for the victims. Also this forum needs to examine the approach to the granting of bail and eventual sentence, especially to those who are accused of committing serious and violent crime. Communities see alleged perpetrators arrested and swiftly released only to commit further crimes or to intimidate witnesses.
Last but not least, I have taken cognizance of what members of the forum have thus far accomplished, well done! However, I must hasten to remind you that a lot still remain to be done. We should draw strength from our size as a forum that we can now do more than before as individuals and separate units.
May the National Criminal Justice Forum of Namibia bring closer the goals of justice for all, and may the vulnerable members in our society see a ray of hope in the establishment and existence of this body.
Having said the above, I now have the pleasure and honour to officially launch the National Criminal Justice Forum of Namibia.
I thank you.