Judicial system of Yemen: Where injustice thrives [Archives:2002/09/Viewpoint]

February 25 2002

The issue of corruption in both sides, financially and administratively, in the judicial system of Yemen has been raised hundreds of times in the press. Yet, we seem to be no closer in solving the problem.
Last week, I had some paperwork to complete at one of the courts of the capital Sanaa, and was shocked to see no one on his desk. I asked, Is this a vacation? Is the day off in here? Or is there some sort of strike?
I was surprised to know that none of that was the case, it is just that the court staff left their offices early with the excuse of the month of Dhilhijje. I was amazed to know that the 12th month of the Hijri calendar Dhilhijje is actually off for all courts in the country. But the court would not be closed during this time as some employees will be available to supposedly serve the public.
Well, if you think I was served that day, then you are wrong. I was asked to give money for the substitute employees at the court who are supposed to manage the duties of the staff in vacation. You need to boost our morals as we are the only ones working here. Pay us -a few thousand rials- and we will have your work done. is what one of the employees said.
Eventually, even though I did pay some money, I could not finish my work because the guy with the stamp was not there. I waited for hours before I gave up. On my way out of the court I asked whether I could have my work done before eid, and I got a self-ensured response: Are you kidding me? You wont get anything done before the eid vacation, and even before its extension [10 days or so following the eid]. the guard said.
Meantime, I found one of the lawyers in the court asking, Why did they have this vacation anyway. Isnt the holy month of Ramadan, the official and non-official vacations enough? This will only add to the miseries of the public who suffers from the a financially and administratively corrupt justice system. Where is justice?
The question is just, and is also demanding. What could our officials say to this?
I cannot imagine how our Minister of Justice would enjoy his eid vacation, while innocent prisoners are held for months awaiting the ministrys employees to sign their papers. Those employees are supposed to be part of the ministry that provides justice, not oppression. Some say that Yemenis are used to the judicial system in the country, and that is the way justice is served here.
But is this true justice?
You be the judge!