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Justice served

Feb 28,2017 - Last updated at Feb 28,2017

The Royal Committee for Reforming the Judiciary and Enhancing the Rule of Law, formed in October last year and mandated with articulating a strategy to address the challenges facing the judicial reform process and improve legislation, on Sunday came up with suggestions in a report it presented to His Majesty King Abdullah who said that the judiciary is a red line and that he will personally follow up on the recommendations of this panel tasked to improve the judicial environment in the country.

The 49 suggestions, some of which have long been key demands of advocacy groups and activists, are part of a plan whose implementation will involve changes to or the introduction of new items of legislation.

The recommendations have the potential to entrench effective and just judicial procedures as a key pillar of a state of justice and law that safeguards the rights and freedoms of its citizens, said the King, who urged an immediate start of the implementation stage and coordination among the three branches of government in order for the plan to be translated into concrete measures and policies within the current year.

The mission focuses on human rights, criminal and civil laws, tribunal formation, the Judicial Council, public prosecution, judicial inspection, judges’ affairs and the overall judicial environment.

And, as its chairman, former prime minister Zeid Rifai, said, the judicial system cannot be reformed without ensuring the independence of the judiciary, which would entail ensuring the independence of the Judicial Council to appoint, transfer, promote and mandate judges, as well as serve their interests and job security.

The committee touched on all aspects involved in the delivery of justice.

Regarding criminal justice, it worked to update procedures to ensure fair trials and suggested changes to the criminal policy as a whole to achieve full abidance by the rule of law.

When it comes to litigation, it wanted to see the reasons for delays; recommendations touched on the way the legal system is managed and suggested rehabilitating human resources, building a judicial system that is based on specialisation and improving the infrastructure of courts.

Also recommended was the introduction of modern technology in all judicial measures, from filing lawsuits to exchanging memos, and the necessary documents and applications between the court, police, forensic experts and other supporting bodies.

In order to improve the business and investment environment, the committee suggested establishing a special courtroom to look into cases of economic importance, including those involving construction contracting, banking, monopoly, insurance, securities and maritime issues.

To ensure proper law enforcement, the committee recommended stiffening penalties on some crimes, including festive firing, car theft, assaults on public servants, writing bad cheques, falsifying documents and mistreating people with disabilities.

Some recommendations may need more precise language, more detailing.

Like, how exactly the Judicial Council will be strengthened, how to make litigation more orderly and cost effective, how precisely some laws will be amended to render them more just, or, more importantly under the current economic situation, how to secure the funding for overhauling — granted, very much needed — the old courthouses or even establishing new ones.

A more precise language would have helped, but that will no doubt come in the course of implementing the suggested plan.

 

As long as the judicial climate is improved and the rights and freedoms of citizens are scrupulously observed, the committee will have done its job well and the country will have benefited.

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