MESSAGE FROM THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE
Hon. Dr. Albert Kawana, (MP)
The Mandate for the Ministry of Justice as set out in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for the period 2017/18 to 2019/20 is to: administer justice in the Republic of Namibia. The distiguished mandate as per the functions is: to provide legal services and access to justice.
Through its Directorate of Legislative Drafting, the Ministry is charged with the function of scrutinising and drafting bills for Parliament, Proclamations of the President, Regulations and Government Notices from Ministries, Offices and Agencies, as well as Rules of the Supreme Court, High Court and Magistrate Courts. In addition, the Ministry provides legal advice to Ministries, Offices and Agencies of Government, mainly on the drafting of legislation, subsidiary legislation and particulars of legislation in force.
It is further the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice to provide legal representation in courts for Ministries, Offices, Agencies, the Master of the High Court, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Prosecutor General, Magistrates, the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, Regional Councils, recognized traditional authorities as well as other entities engaged in government administration.
Not only does the Ministry deal with legal matters on the national level, but the Ministry is also engaged in legal issues on regional and international level. It deals with legal matters such as mutual legal assistance, extraditions, human rights and humanitarian law, bilateral and multilateral affairs, legislation, policy and research, legal education and professional discipline of legal practitioners. The Ministry is the central authority for the processing of requests on extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal and civil matters and in addition, processes requests for reciprocal enforcement of foreign judgments and issues apostilles on the authentication of public documents for use in foreign jurisdictions in terms of the Hague Convention.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice is charged with the responsibility of providing legal aid in the form of legal advice and legal representation to indigent persons at State expense in Namibia. The primary goal of providing legal aid is to ensure fair trial to all.
The Ministry also oversees the administration of deceased estates, registration of trusts, appointment of and administration pertaining to tutors and curators, administration of the Guardian Fund (in respect of minors and mentally challenged persons. The Ministry further provides various administrative support services to the entire ministry in terms of its strategic objective: “To ensure an enabling environment and high performance culture.
Therefore, allow me to express my sincere appreciation to all the staff members and stakeholders for their tireless efforts to ensure that the ministry deliver on its mandate.
MESSAGE FROM THE PERMANENT SECRETARY
Mr Isaaskar Ndjoze, (PS)
The 2016/17 financial year once again proved to be a challenging one, but the Ministry endeavored to improve its overall performance, amongst others, through regular strategic review progress meetings and an attempt to finalize the implementation of the Performance Management System. While this did not go as well as one would have hoped, I am satisfied that strides were at least made to accomplish this important intervention towards improved public service delivery. The implementation of the new Strategic Plan for the Ministry of Justice for the period: 2017 -2022 will enable the Justice team to improve on the implementation of the Performance Management System and we look forward to the initiatives to be rolled out.
The time it takes to process legal aid applications, which has always been a huge concern, was reduced from an estimated 20 working days to 5 working days. Furthermore, we managed to achieve a 59% to 41% ratio of in-house legal aid counsel vis-à-vis instructions to private practitioners which is quite an achievement considering not only the reduction in costs, but the opportunity for quality assurance.
The Ministry has been concerned to ensure that it reduces the cost of providing legal aid by reducing the number of instructions issued to private legal practitioners by increasing the number of legal aid council on the establishment of the Directorate of Legal Aid.
A new Case Mangagement System will soon be introduced for the operations of the Master of the High Court. This new system will enable citizens to access the services offered by this office anywhere and anytime through electronic means and promises to reduce the time it takes to respond to inquiries and ease the lodging of documents for processes to be completed.
The decentralization of services remains high on the priority list for the Ministry of Justice as we endeavour to live up to our promise to bring these services closer to the people.
Upgrading of the existing magistrate’s courts at Outapi and Eenhana is completed and the construction of a new magistrate’s court at Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region is well underway and nearing completion.
However, as indicated earlier, the achievements did not come without challenges; amongst others, the Ministry experienced serious financial and human resources constraints as well as others reported on under each directorate. Despite the many challenges facing the Ministry, the staff members mostly managed to deliver on the objectives as a team. I wish to reiterate that the Ministry will continue its commitment to skills development and capacity building, including the funding of applicable tertiary studies considered essential for the growth of the Ministry.
I would like to thank all staff members who worked hard to ensure a successful 2016/17 financial year for the Ministry.