Noa blames lawyers, courts for failing to purge corruption … as he struggles to keep Ark afloat
Anti-Corruption Commission director Paulus Noa has blamed magistrates and lawyers for allegedly failing the justice system with delays in the prosecution of corruption suspects and finalisation of cases in courts.
Noa was speaking at an anti-corruption caucus at his head office ahead of the anti-corruption commemoration held last week, themes “United against corruption for development, peace, and security”.
He said such incompetency in the justice system was the reason why his body was being lashed at by public opinion as a “political stooge and toothless dog”.
“If the cases (are) delayed, delay after delay, it also offends members of the public because (they) have a higher expectation for speedy dispensation of justice.”
He said the delay is leading to witnesses losing interest in testifying on corruption matters which in certain instances has led to some suspects being acquitted.
Noa called on entities not to slow down or refrain from instituting disciplinary measures against corruption suspects even if it means their cases are yet to be finalised in courts.
A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research said that a section of Namibian society perceived judges and magistrates as being corrupt.
The report is titled “Creaking under its own weight: How backlogs, bottlenecks and capacity constraints undermine the criminal justice system’s contribution to Namibian anti-corruption efforts”.
Noa said perception mattered a lot and that they needed to be addressed by courts, law enforcers and individual members of society.
“The moment people build this perception of the courts (as well as) investigators being corrupt then they will lose confidence in the structures. Having lost confidence means they will not report cases to law enforcement authorities,” he said.
The IPPR report states that backlogs and bottlenecks in the delivery of justice had become of increasing concern within the justice sector.
It submits that the bottlenecks, backlogs and undue delays in the system first truly reared their heads in public about a decade ago when the issue of how long it took judges to deliver their judgement boiled to the surface as a significant concern amongst trial lawyers.
“For instance, and taking this issue as broadly symbolising the systemic issues, the graveness of the judgement delivery situation prompted the Law Society of Namibia (LSN), representing more than 600 admitted lawyers, in 2008 to write a scathing letter to the Judicial Service Commission, calling on it to institute misconduct charges against judges and magistrates who consistently and continually failed to deliver their judgement within a reasonable period.”
“In its complaint letter the LSN stated that “the failure to hand down judgment within a reasonable time has a deleterious effect on the rule of law and human rights in Namibia, not to mention the risk of international embarrassment and the erosion of public confidence in the judiciary as well as the judicial process,” reads the report.
In 2006 about 6 605 reports were registered by the ACC although not all were on corruption, 605 got submitted to the office of the Prosecutor general, 347 finalised in courts, 212 still pending in courts while 24 await the decision of the PG.