Access to justice is a dodgy thing for many Africans especially those who do not have adequate resources to fight drawn out legal battles.
Several stories of let downs by African courts have apparently resulted in a loss of confidence on the part of Africans towards local courts and has shifted that confidence to religious leaders.
A new survey by Afrobarometer has highlighted just how grave the loss of confidence is; over half of people on the continent have lost faith in the integrity of judges and their local courts.
Of course, issues still have to be resolved in some other way and Afrobarometer’s survey revealed that African’s put much more import on religious and traditional leader’s ability to solve their issues.
The respondents in the survey were mostly in sync about the issues affecting the judicial system across the continent some of which include terrible delays in handling and resolving court cases, lack of legal advice as well as high court fees.
In Nigeria, for instance, 62% of the respondents alluded to not trusting courts and there is little to wonder about when one considers the bleak reality of three-quarters of the country’s entire prison population serving time without a sentence.
Afrobarometer’s survey revealed levels of trusts among African respondents for religious leaders, armed forces, traditional leaders, President, courts, police, the Electoral Commission, National Assembly, local government council, ruling party, tax department and opposition parties.
- Religious leaders – 72%
- Army – 64%
- Traditional leaders – 61%
- President – 57%
- Courts – 53%
- Police – 51%
- Electoral Commission – 50%
- National Assembly – 48%
- Local government council – 46%
- Ruling party – 46%
- Tax department – 44%
- Opposition party – 36%
The survey also revealed that 33% of respondents thought that judges were involved in corruption. Broken down on a country by country basis, the perception of judges’ involvement in corruption saw over half of the respondents from Mali, Liberia, and Cameroon having a view that “most” or “all” judges in the country are corrupt.