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PRESIDENT Lungu (fourth from right) and Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula (fourth left) with newly appointed Appeals Court judges after swearing-in ceremony at State House on Monday. PICTURE: COLLINS PHIRI

Judges have onerous, important task

JUDGES hold very delicate jobs. As such, they should at all times be above board in their day-to-day actions at all times, including such times when the country is in the midst of intense political rivalry because of the pending elections.
They must choose who to hang out with – both in public and private – as well as what to utter, because it may be used against them when they deliver judgement.
Such is their job because they almost cease to be ordinary human beings because the nation expects a lot from them.
Judges avoid environments, which may tempt them to utter words, act in a manner that suggests having an inclination or bias against some lawyers or people appearing before them.
Against this background of dos and don’ts, they must live up to people’s expectations, especially in the wake of the new constitution.
Speaking at State House yesterday when he swore in nine High Court judges and conferred the status of State Counsel on the advocate of the High Court, Abha Patel, President Lungu said there are a lot of expectations from Zambians.
It is, therefore, imperative that the Judges work hard and ensure that the integrity of the judiciary is maintained by sticking to the ethics of what Judges are expected to uphold.
President Lungu said seemingly little things like drinking at a club at late hours and mixing with seemingly questionable characters matter in the life of a Judge.
President Lungu advised the newly-inducted Judges to wean themselves from friends and relatives of questionable character, who may tarnish their (Judges) image.
Judges must also treat lawyers, clients and witnesses with respect and impartiality.
In season and out of season, in courtroom and outside the courtroom, judges should never socialise or associate with lawyers or other persons connected with the cases they hear.
This may cause some sections of society to accuse them of having pre-determined outcomes.
Judges should at all times declare conflict and desist from hearing cases in which their relatives, neighbours, church mates or friends are involved.
Judges should adhere to President Lungu’s counsel for them to emulate seasoned Judges because the work of a Judge is “a difficult and lonely one”.
President Lungu said the office of a Judge is not about glamour but about a lot of hard work and high expectations from the public and therefore calls for long hours of research, hard work and study.
The judiciary is after all, independent and judges must be objective and impartial irrespective of the circumstances.
With the judiciary being independent from other wings of Government, judges must be able to make courageous decisions, even those that may seem to be unpopular because their role is not to appease but to deliver justice.
Zambia judges have a good reputation even across national borders as evidenced by some of them being engaged in other countries.
This is a hard earned reputation and the onus is on them to keep it as such by exercising and protecting their independence.