Govt to launch institute to train, skill judiciary officers

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Johannesburg - Government is to establish a new institute of learning for newly appointed and long-serving judges and magistrates.

The institute, to be built at the Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, will be used a centre to further train judiciary officers with a purpose of advancing their capacity and skills in the judiciary systems as well as a continuous education and development of experienced for judiciary officers.

It will also be a platform for judiciary officers to exchange ideas, information and experiences.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development launched the innovative South African Judicial Education Institute on Wednesday. It is the first of its kind in Southern Africa and one of a few in the world

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Enver Surty said the government had realised that it was vital to have a place where judicial officers, both experienced and new, could learn more.

"It is a major step in making sure that the judiciary system is as independent as possible," he said, adding that it would become one of the government's flagship projects.

Speaking at the event Chief Justice Pius Langa said South Africa's democracy, founded on the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law, placed significant emphasis on judicial education as an increasingly indispensable element of judicial reform.

He said he was confident that the establishment of the institute would transform the legal system and this would in turn improve the judiciary independence and integrity.

Deputy Minister of Justice Johnny De Lange said the by introducing the institute, government wanted to institutionalize the judiciary system and promote accessibility and impartiality of the system.

"This innovative institute will effectively enhance the skills of judges, magistrate and relevant officers in dealing particularly with critical judiciary issues.

"We have set aside a substantial budget to ensure this initiative is effectively operational and to ensure it have necessary resources which will make it possible to accomplish its goals," said Mr De Lange who has been appointed to a Interim Task Team that will ensure the implementation of the institute.

In September 2008, President Kgalema Motlanthe assented to the South African Judicial Education Institute Act No. 14 of 2008, the legislation establishing the Institute. He then announced the commencement of the Act at the World Conference on Constitutional Justice in Cape Town in January.

The Act establishes a Council chaired by Justice Langa to manage the affairs of the Institute and Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke in the role of Deputy Chairperson.

Minister Surty is also a member of the council, with provision to designate another senior official as his or her nominee to represent him at the Council and he has designated two other persons not involved in the administration of justice as members of the Council as required by the Act.

Other Council members are drawn from the ranks of judges, the magistracy, academicians, legal practitioners and the institution of traditional leadership.