BUJUMBURA February 15th (ABP) – MPs met in plenary session on Monday, February 13, 2023, at the Kigobe hemicycle, to analyze and pass the draft organic law amending Law No. 1/08 of March 17, 2005 on the code of judicial organization and jurisdiction, a check on the site by ABP has revealed.
The Minister of Justice, Mrs. Domine Banyankimbona, indicated in her explanatory memorandum that despite the major reforms of judicial organization and jurisdiction carried out in 1987 and 2005, the expected objectives for the advent of equal justice for all, closer to plaintiffs, faster and more accessible, have not all been achieved.
Indeed, she indicated that the analysis of the Burundian judicial organization reveals bottlenecks and blocking factors affecting the overall efficiency of the system. That is why it appeared necessary to revise the code of judicial organization and jurisdiction to establish a modern and more efficient judicial system. She added that the bill aims to bring the Burundian legislation in force to the best international standards, while basing the drafting of the bill in the wake of the provisions currently in force.
Minister Banyankimbona pointed out that there are added elements that tend either to modernize the organization of justice, or to facilitate its functioning. The bill also wants to empower the judge and make him/her more accountable to the people of Burundi, she said.
According to her, the main innovations brought about by that bill are, among other things, the establishment of the institution of a single judge in certain matters which will allow the magistrate in charge of the case to assume and take responsibility for decision-making in accordance with the law, the establishment of the dissenting opinion in the event of disagreement occurring during the deliberation, the assignment of the officers of the public prosecutor’s office to the courts of residence, the increase in the value of the dispute with regard to material jurisdiction of the court of residence in civil matters, with a view to bringing justice closer to plaintiffs and to accommodate the economic realities of the day, the restoration of the principle of the double degree of jurisdiction for disputes relating to rural land and the creation a commercial appeal court and commercial houses within the high courts.
It is also about the reorganization of the administrative jurisdictions, by the creation of specialized houses within the courts of appeal and the administrative courts having two houses, that of first degree and that of second degree which must hear the appeal of judgments rendered in administrative matters, the reconstitution of a judicial file, when, as a result of any cause whatsoever, minutes of judgments or judgments not yet executed, or proceedings in progress have been destroyed, removed or are lost.
During the exchanges and debates, the question that came up was whether the establishment of the institution of the single judge will produce the expected results. Here, the Minister of Justice replied that some judges today take refuge behind collegiality to make decisions that do not comply with the law. It is therefore difficult to establish the responsibilities of each other given that decisions are taken by a majority of the seat members.
This institution will therefore allow the accountability and responsibility of the judge. She added that the institution of the single judge makes it possible to clear cases quickly as long as the need to bring together more than one judge to rule or deliberate on a case can delay decision-making process.
Finally, given that the judge will be alone in decision-making process, he/she will have to put in a lot of efforts to learn, do research, consult and compare the different sources of law in order to come out with a quality decision because there will be mechanisms for evaluating the knowledge of magistrates on the basis of their decisions. Therefore, the establishment of the single judge will allow a good administration of justice, she underlined.
At the end of the exchanges and debates, the members of Parliament unanimously passed the bill under analysis with 37 formal amendments and 17 substantive amendments.