THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has condemned the recent media sentiments attributed to Constitutional lawyers Dr Roger Chongwe SC and John Sangwa SC, questioning the qualifications, integrity and impartiality of Constitutional Court Judges.
LAZ Council stated, Thursday, that it was a lawyer’s duty to protect the integrity of the courts as well as guide the public on the importance of public confidence in the judicial system.
“LAZ strongly condemns the recent print and electronic media sentiments attributed to two of its very senior members, Dr Roger Chongwe, SC and Mr John Sangwa, SC questioning the qualifications, integrity, propriety and impartiality of the Constitutional Court Judges. LAZ is mandated by law to advance the rule of law and the proper administration of justice. Accordingly, it is much an individual lawyer’s duty as it is a mandate of LAZ to protect the integrity of the courts and the administration of justice and to guide the public on the importance of public confidence in the judicial system,” it stated.
The LAZ Council noted that while courts and judicial officers were not immune to criticism, it was not a license for anyone to slander, demean or ridicule them.
It reminded its members and the public that unwarranted attacks on judicial officers undermined public’s confidence in the judiciary.
“While courts and judicial officers are not immune to criticism, this is not a license to anyone to slander, demean or ridicule judges and judicial officers. All LAZ members must be aware of the clear difference between criticizing a judicial decision or a judge’s conduct and personally attacking a judge or judicial officer. LAZ wishes to remind its members and the general public that unwarranted attacks on judicial officers undermine public confidence in the judiciary as a whole and lowers the authority of the courts in the administration of justice. A direct consequence of an undermined judiciary is general erosion of the respect for law by the public,” the Council stated.
It added that any person who believed that a judge was incompetent, corrupt or had abrogated any lawful duty was free to seek redress through the right channels.
“Members of the public, and more so lawyers, have a duty to refrain from the use of inappropriate language against judges or courts and to resist making unsubstantiated claims of judicial impropriety. Judges and judicial officers are by law mandated to perform their duties without fear or favour or ill will and to be free of intimidation and undue influence in whatever form. Any person who believes that a judge is incompetent, corrupt or has abrogated any lawful duty is free to seek redress through the right channels such as the Judicial Complaints Commission or the Anti-Corruption Commission,” the Council stated.
“LAZ reiterates its call on all of its members and indeed members of the public to use the right channels of seeking redress for their grievances or their clients against any judge or judicial officer.”