lack of independent judicial systems in Africa, Amnesty
London, 28 May.- (ANA) - In many African countries the judicial system lacks independence, according to Amnesty International’s annual report 2009 published in London.
In addition, the justice system is often under-resourced, poorly equipped and understaffed, leading to excessive delays in hearing criminal cases. For those with little access to financial resources, negotiating the criminal justice systemcan prove a nightmare.
In Nigeria, for example, those who are poor face numerous obstacles to obtaining a fair trial within an acceptable period of time.
Although some efforts have been made to provide legal aid, it is not nearly enough to grant legal representation for all who need it but cannot afford to pay for a lawyer – even in cases carrying the death penalty. The more than 700 people living on death row in Nigeria in 2008 all had one thing in common – they were poor.
However, in a landmark decision, the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community ofWest African States (ECOWAS) ordered the government of Niger to pay reparations to a woman who had been held in domestic and sexual slavery for a decade, on the basis that the authorities had failed to implement existing laws against slavery.(ANA)