judicial independence

‘Unprecedented levels of political interference with courts’ – Chief Justice

The leader of the judiciary in England and Wales has reacted sharply to continuing attempts by politicians to interfere with the judiciary, judicial appointments and judicial decisions. In fact, he has even suggested that politicians should be taught about the boundaries that should exist between parliament and the judiciary and that a short course could be drawn up for new members, to explain these ‘boundaries’ and why they should be observed.
 

When you read a headline like the one above it is easy to imagine that the Chief Justice expressing these concerns is from some obscure country with no understanding of judicial independence, no history of separation of powers. But in fact the Chief Justice who made these observations was the Lord Burnett of Maldon, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, head of the judiciary of England and Wales and President of the Courts of England and Wales.

Judge claims CJ instructs how cases must be decided

The crisis in Zimbabwe heightened this week, with a spotlight now pointed at internal problems within the judiciary. First, a judge who was suspended on contested grounds has launched an urgent application to prevent a disciplinary tribunal from being set up to investigate her. In the course of her founding affidavit she made some grave allegations against the Chief Justice, for example, saying that he routinely intervened to ensure judges decided matters in a certain way.

Seldom has the judiciary of any country in this region been in the kind of mess now seen in Zimbabwe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa had no sooner announced that he had removed Judge Francis Bere from his position on the bench for unethical conduct, than a second bombshell exploded.

'Judicial independence on trial’ in case involving Malawi’s Chief Justice

Malawi’s high court has decided that attempts by the country’s former President, Peter Mutharika, to get rid of the Chief Justice and other senior judges by placing them on enforced leave pending retirement, were illegal and unconstitutional. The decision, delivered this week, followed major local and international support for the judiciary of Malawi, after the announcement of the former President’s steps against its leadership.

Read judgment

For everyone involved, either directly or as a concerned onlooker, with judicial events in the days before Malawi’s June elections, the judgment delivered this week by Judge Charles Mkandawire will come as a great relief and vindication.

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