The Lesotho judiciary and its administration have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which hit the country and the world in 2020 and 2021.
The President of the Court of Appeal, Dr Kananelo Mosito said this when officially opening the first session of the Court of Appeal in an event held in Maseru on Monday.
Dr Mosito remarked that the pandemic has far-reaching effects on personal and professional lives, saying as all hope to overcome the pandemic, the Court of Appeal will continue to take precautions against the pandemic by among others conducting its operations remotely.
He therefore passed his condolences to families who lost their members to the pandemic, singling out among the victims, Judge Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane who succumbed to death due to COVID-19 illness last year.
In his official opening statement, he pointed out that despite the challenges that the Court of Appeal is facing, it must remain an independent and impartial court. He stressed that judicial independence is recognised through the Constitution, noting that this is crucial for rule of law.
He said the judicial power is exercised independently without any interference, emphasizing that judges should not be subjected to improper influence in the discharge of their judicial functions.
He acknowledged the appointment of Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane into the office of the Chief Justice, urging him to promote the obligation to give reasons in judgments in the High Court as it does not seem to be working well. He remarked that without reasons, it is impossible to tell whether the High Court was entitled to deal with a matter.
The President of the Court of Appeal stressed that judges must account for their reasons, saying reasons are needed to test the validity of conclusions and that reasons encourage transparency and increase confidence in the justice system.
He stated that the Court of Appeal will put in place quality assurance mechanisms adding that judgments will this session take three weeks to be written and delivered, unlike in the past when that took lesser time.
Speaking at the same occasion, President of the Law Society of Lesotho, Adv. Mosoeunyane Masiphole said services including those offered by the judiciary almost came to a halt because of COVID-19, commending the Court of Appeal for being strategic and ensuring that the wheels of justice keep running.
He thanked the management of the Court of Appeal for recognising the Law Society of Lesotho and engaging with them, saying speed and dedication are essential for the administration of justice.
Adv. Masiphole pointed out that delivery of quality judgments was previously compromised hence expressed hope that the extension of the writing and delivery of judgments will help add more value and quality to the jurisprudence.
The first session of the Court of Appeal is scheduled for April 12 to May 07, 2021 when judgments will be delivered.
Source: LENA 14/04.2021