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Senate passes two Bills
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
October 19, 2006

SENATE yesterday passed the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment and the Judicial Service Bills without amendments.

The Bills now await President Mugabeís signature to become law.

The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill seeks to enhance the justice delivery system, especially the granting of bail and handling of cases on child abuse.

Under the proposed law, magistrates would be empowered to order a parent or a guardian to be present at the confirmation proceedings where the accused is a juvenile.

The provisions excluding the public from attending confirmation proceedings will be repealed so that these will be held in an open court for the sake of transparency.

The Judicial Service Bill seeks to remove magistrates and their supporting staff from the authority of the Public Service Commission and place them under the commission that certifies judges.

During the second reading debate of the Bill, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Cde Patrick Chinamasa said the proposed law would enhance the independence of the judiciary, a development that was in conformity with the internationally acceptable standards where judiciaries operated with a great degree of autonomy.

He said a code of conduct and ethics would also be put in place to assist the judiciary maintain ethics as well as improve their conditions of service.

"We will be more focused on resources but my expectations are that conditions of service would be better. The majority of officers, even judges and magistrates donít own houses and most donít own cars," he said.

Cde Chinamasa said under the proposed law judges and magistrates could be arrested when they committed a crime but not in the courts or their chambers.

Contributing to the debate, Non-Constituency Senator Mr Jonathan Mapfumo said the Bill would also establish an independent budget for the judiciary.

"The Bill will wean off the judiciary from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and it will also enhance the administrative efficiency of the ministry," he said.

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