And Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says government has created more bed-spaces for inmates in the last few years to reduce congestion.
During the official opening of the 2019 High Court criminal session under the them incarceration does mean the loss of human dignity held at the Lusaka High Court, Mambilima said they had increased the number of criminal cases held every year from 12 to 18.
The Chief Justice said the judiciary had put clearance of the backlog of cases and judgments at the top of their agenda.
“Guest of Honour, I must mention that in the last three years, the judiciary mounted an aggressive policy against the backlog in both criminal and civil matters. This was in reaction to a public outcry for the speedy delivery of justice and the need to fulfil our constitutional mandate to ensure access to justice to all and speedy dispensation of justice,” she said.
“At the High Court level we began by increasing the number of criminal sessions held each year from twelve to eighteen. At that point the High Court was in backlog of three years. To this end we have drastically reduced on the time an accused person spends in the criminal justice system. That is to say, the period between committal of an accused person to the High Court and the date of trial has reduced remarkably.”
She added: “In addition she has indicated that Cause-listing of criminal cases is also now being fast-tracked as the cause lists are prepared well in advance so that accused persons and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system have adequate time to prepare for cases. This initiative has drastically reduced instances of adjournments as accused persons and other stakeholders are given sufficient notice.”
Mambilima said the Supreme Court set up a permanent criminal panel and delivery of on the spot judgments in both criminal and civil matters during the Ndola sessions.
She said as a result of the initiatives, the Supreme Court was now current and dealing with criminal appeals lodged in 2018.
And Kampyongo used the opportunity to warn abusers of cyber space that they will be hunted down by law enforcement agencies.
“Our resolve as Ministries of Home Affairs and Transport and Communication is to declare war against cyber criminals,” he said.
Kampyongo said to win the war there would be need of cooperation from the judiciary.
Meanwhile in line with this year’s theme for the High Court ceremonial criminal session the Minister says the Zambia Correctional Services has the responsibility of ensuring that the incarcerated serve the sentences meted out to them by the courts of law.
He said government has since 2012 increased the capacity of the correctional to centers from 8,250 in 2011 to 11,100 by the end of 2018 and the has pledged that an additional 3000 bed spaces will be done by the end of 2019.
In terms of statistics the state of criminal matters under the Lusaka Region in 2018 was as follows: Lusaka High Court recorded 532 cases filed, 294 cases disposed of, 113 cases pending trial or judgment and 112 cases pending Cause-listing.
Justice Mambilima adds that Mongu High Court recorded 351 cases filed, 286 cases disposed of, 2 cases pending trial or judgment, 6 cases referred to Chainama and 57 cases pending Cause-listing.