Home >Our work >Strengthening the capacity of the justice system of Swaziland
High Court, Swaziland

Strengthening the capacity of the justice system of Swaziland

This project supported greater access to justice through the clearing of substantial case backlogs and has improved the quality and timeliness of court practice and administration.

Country: Swaziland
Host: High Court of Swaziland  
Start date: 01/09/2008
End date: 01/11/2014
Policy area: Rule of Law
Policy expert: Mark Guthrie
Project manager: Joel Burman

Background

The court system of Swaziland has faced a number of challenges both in terms of dealing with a backlog of cases and in dealing with a large number of cases relating to the interpretation of the new Constitution, which came into effect in 2005.

In 2008, the Government of Swaziland requested CFTC technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of the justice system of Swaziland through the provision of two High Court judges. At the time of the request the court system in Swaziland was experiencing a massive backlog of cases due to serious delays in the hearing of cases. Obsolete case management systems, lack of training of key staff, including clerks of court and magistrates, as well as a lack of judges in the High Court were causing these delays. This resulted in a large number of detainees spending long periods of time in custody awaiting trial.

The Government of Swaziland requested for two judges and a special adviser to advise the Chief Justice on capacity building and assist in the development of modern methods of managing a justice system, as well as to provide the necessary training for staff within the justice system.

Goal 

The goal of this project was to strengthen the capacity in the justice system of Swaziland though the provision of CFTC judges and the training of key judicial officers including magistrates, registrars and clerks. 

Impact

This project has assisted the judiciary in Swaziland to deal with the significant case backlog in the courts by direct disposal of cases by highly qualified judges and improved case management and administration.

During the project key judicial officers, including magistrates, registrars and clerks have benefited from professional training. The project beneficiaries have more broadly included the people of Swaziland who have benefited from the increased effectiveness in the administration and delivery of justice. This will, in the medium-long term, also contribute to greater social, political and economic stability. 

Outputs
  1. CFTC High Court Judges cleared a total of 9,158 criminal and civil cases from Swaziland’s backlog, with more than 713 judgments issued, this included some ground-breaking areas such as child rights, sexual violence, corruption, and in relation to the new constitution.
  2. Having joined the Judiciary at a time of extensive case backlog, the CFTC support left the High Court without a single case or judgement pending.
  3. Staff within the justice system received capacity building training (often for the first time since being appointed), including: 25 Interpreters and Court Taxation Clerks, 8 (principal) new Magistrates, 33 Court Secretaries, 4 senior Swazilii staff, 4 part-time High Court Judges, various individual officers and support staff in the High Court, and (45) judicial stakeholders (with regard to accessing judgments).
  4. Following the High Court's administration Review and Recommendations Report (2009), contemporary and efficient case management systems were established within the High Court, including the production and monitoring of monthly judges’ reports covering cases heard and disposed.
  5. Various materials were developed to support ongoing functioning and professionalism of the courts, including a handbook on taxation, 'The guide to taxation for taxing officers in Swaziland'; a training manual for Judicial Clerks; new court rules; and, the delivery of books and law reports to build the hitherto almost non-existent Chief Justices’ Library.