President Joseph Kabila Committed to the Justice ReformMay 28, 2015
General Assembly of Justice
"I declare the General Assembly of Justice open." In a few solemn words, Joseph Kabila, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, launched the work of the General Assembly of Justice. The ceremony was broadcast live on national public television, RTNC, which indicates the importance of the event.
"I asked the Government to organize these Meetings because I have a deep conviction," reaffirmed the Head of State in his speech. "Despite the progress that we registered in the field of institutional reforms in the justice sector, the accounts are far from those of interest for litigants." According to him, access to justice is a major imperative. What is also important, he said, is the change of mentalities of the actors of Justice: "In all circumstances, having exemplary behavior that inspires confidence and respect of the citizens who expect them to say what is right, only right." President Kabila added that restoring the image of justice meant respect for the equality of citizens before the law, for fundamental freedoms and rights of individuals. "We must raise the awareness of everyone" he concluded.
Present at the opening ceremony were the highest authorities of the executive, legislative and judicial branches; representatives of the military; representatives of religious organizations; heads of diplomatic missions; technical and financial partners, representatives of the civil society, traditional leaders that distinguish themselves by their traditional costumes and ... the media!
The Congolese defendants remain unsatisfied
"Justice raises a Nation and we can design the development and democratic stability of our country without this main precondition," said the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Alexis Mwamba Thambwe. He noted that in general, Congolese citizens are largely dissatisfied with the way justice works and how it is made. The figures are overwhelming and demonstrate the need to open a dialogue with all the Justice key players to achieve a justice that protects and reassures citizens.
This General Assembly is a first in the DRC. It was organized by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, with the assistance of the Superior Council of Magistracy. It takes place from April 27th to May 2nd in Kinshasa. Donors of the General Assembly of Justice are PARJ (Support Programme for the Reform of Justice), the Embassy of France, the European Union, MONUSCO, Sweden and UNDP DRC.
Despite efforts made by the government with the support of its technical and financial partners (TFP), many dysfunctions still plague the justice sector in the DRC. Studies commissioned by both PTFs and State bodies or organizations of civil society reveal these dysfunctions. Since 2009, the DRC has lost 3.2 points in the category "Security and Law State" of the "Ibrahim Index" of African Governance, finishing in 50th place out of 52 African countries.
For six days, over 350 representatives of the civil and military justice sector, the economic diplomatic sector, civil society unions and legal experts will analyze the functioning of justice in all sectors. They will assess the reforms undertaken by the authorities with the help of technical and financial partners. They will also target priority actions and implementation modalities.
The international community supports the Government in the reform of justice
On behalf of all technical partners, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union, Ambassador Jean-Michel Dumond, congratulated the Congolese Government in general, and the Ministry of Justice in particular, for its commitment to research for building a strong and united state, a state of law based on democracy and respect for human rights, and a state capable of ensuring peace and stability. "Any rule of law is based on impartial justice and judicial unit with powers, financial resources, equipment and skills that are necessary to combat impunity and protect human rights," said Jean-Michel Dumond. He also reaffirmed the support for the efforts of all partners of the DRC in implementing various reforms, of which the reform of justice ranks high.
What about being involved?
The official opening ceremony ended with a press conference hosted by the Minister of Justice, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, Ambassador Jean-Michel Dumond and the Dean of the Law School within the Kinshasa University, Professor Nyabirungu, who will be the moderator during the six days of the General Assembly of Justice.
The journalists' questions focused on the involvement of magistrates, arrests of opponents and civil society actors and the humanization of prisons in the DRC.
The Minister of Justice acknowledged that many citizens do not know that a magistrate may be accused when he makes his decision and clearly shows either carelessness or a clear sign that he was corrupted. He proposes awareness campaigns to be organized for the population in this regard. Regarding the recent arrests, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said that people are not to be arrested because they are opponents or civil society actors.
Those who are arrested committed crimes and there is evidence against them. Surveys are also opened to determine the facts and establish responsibilities.
In terms of humanization of prisons, the head of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has announced the release of hundreds of prisoners in a preventive action to decongest prisons. An order has already been signed to this effect and will be published shortly. The files concerned are being analyzed and all those responsible for petty crimes will be released. He also mentioned the possibility of rehabilitating the Luzumu prison that will accommodate all convicted persons from Makala prison.
The work of the General Assembly is carried out in groups. Participants debate on nine themes:
- Independence of Justice
- Legal procedures, competences and organization
- Organization of judicial professions and administrative and auxiliary staff
- Access to justice
- Legal security of investments
- Criminal Justice
- Prison administration
- Planning, coordination, monitoring of reforms and funding of justice
- Fight against impunity
The General Assembly of Justice will lead to a consensual diagnosis of the functioning of the justice sector, on developing a priority action and reform synthesis document, improving the functioning of the justice sector, and implementing a monitoring mechanism for the reforms in place.
For more information:
- DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Hamuri Mwana Kahambwe, Press Officer, Cell: 081-81-036-88
-UNDP: Annie Bipendu, Counsellor within the Justice and Security program. E-mail: email@example.com and Ladislas de Coster, Technical Adviser "Rule of Law." Email: firstname.lastname@example.org