UN expert calls on Mozambique to enhance independence of judiciary

10 December 2010
Gabriela Knaul

A United Nations human rights expert today wrapped up her visit to Mozambique by calling on the country to redouble its efforts to ensure a truly independent and impartial judiciary.

“The prominent place that the Constitution of Mozambique gives to the independence of the judiciary should be reflected daily in the justice system,” stressed the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul.

“The major challenge for the independence of the judiciary in Mozambique is to be fully operational and depoliticized so that judicial decisions be based on facts and in accordance with the law, without undue influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, whether direct or indirect,” she added.

Ms. Knaul’s five-day visit was a continuation of a prior visit undertaken at the end of August that was suspended. Over the course of the entire mission, she travelled to the cities of Maputo, Nampula and Beira, as well as the district of Meconta, and met with a wide range of people from the Government, the judiciary, civil society, the UN, academia and the diplomatic community.

“During my visit, there were indications that membership of the ruling party, in power since 1975, is sometimes a de facto prerequisite for access to the public administration, including the judicial career, as well as for career advancement and job security.

“These, coupled with the lack of an effective system of checks and balances place considerable obstacles to the development of a truly impartial judiciary. I encourage the Government of Mozambique to redouble efforts to ensure justice for all through an independent judiciary.”

The Special Rapporteur hailed a number of encouraging initiatives in the justice sector, and encouraged the Central Office for Combating Corruption to contribute to creating a culture of accountability. She also called on the Office to reinforce its efforts to investigate and bring to justice persons found guilty of corruption.

In addition, Ms. Knaul recognized efforts to make justice more accessible for people, including the “Justice Centres” (“Palacios da Justiça”) aimed at facilitating information flow among the actors of the justice system and speeding up legal proceedings, as well as the training available for legal professionals.

The expert, who will submit her full report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council next June, invited the international community to assist the Government in strengthening good governance and justice in Mozambique.


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