For the past 3 years, I have been advocating for Sustainable Development Goals, a journey that I have tried to document and share with all those of you that read my blog. I have advocated for SDG 16, which emphasizes on the need for Peace, Justice and Good Governance. This time around, I figured to use this platform to share my knowledge with you. So as a first, I wanted to start with Justice, or the lack of it in Malawi.
The Malawian justice system is one of the many flawed institutions we have. It has so many holes which will take time to patch. Like most justice systems in Africa, our justice system has a way of smiling at the rich while absconding the poor. But before I break that down, let me share with you some of the issues that exist in the system.
A few of them are:
- Corruption: this is infested in a lot of our institutions actually. Have money, and it could be possible to buy off a lot of crimes than you know it.
- Lack of adequate personnel: if you were to visit a prison right now, you will find many that are being kept there and yet their cases have not been presented to the court and a formal ruling done. Why? Because most times, there are lack of judges in the court rooms, and the ones that are available have way too much on their plate.
- Politics: this is so unfortunate that most times, cases or people will not get any justice due to how politicized the case is. And most times, due to corruption, the ones responsible for delivering justice fail to.
- Legal fees: these are high and do not do well with the lower class citizens. The charge of most lawyers per hour can not equate to the vast majority’s monthly earnings. Then there is the Legal Aid Bureau which is overworked.
I could list down so many issues, but I’m quite sure you get the point.
Now, going back to justice being for the rich, look back at the mentioned issues and think hard as to which of those a rich man would find problematic compared to a poor man? When a high profile person is arrested, how long does it take for them to be granted bail compared to an average man?
With such issues at hand, a lot of people have lost trust in the justice system in the country. That is why when robbers are caught; the first thing people in the area will think of is burning them with tyres instead of getting them arrested.
The problem is, lack of a functioning justice system means lack of development which is contrary to the SDG 16 framework and targets. How does a country progress when its citizens have no trust in the institutions that govern them? This is a discussion for another day.
Remember, comments on the issue are highly encouraged, just drop them in the comment box below. And if you’re not Malawian, I would like to also hear the huddles in the justice system in your country, so do not be shy to share them.