Judiciary: Crippled institutions that can’t do their work properly [Archives:2005/861/Reportage]

July 21 2005

Yemen Times Staff

The judiciary's mission is to resolve disputes and establish justice. When this institution fails to do its duty properly, it becomes a means of oppression.

Yemeni judiciary is rotten to the core. People don't trust it, and don't like to resort their cases to it. Why did it reach this miserable state?

We try to shed light on this problem and explore defects and the reform prospects. We spoke to judges, lawyers, and people. Here are their opinions:

Waiting for years

Qartala; a Yemeni lady said that she has been waiting for twelve years now for her verdict to be carried out. The high court had ruled in her case 12 years ago, but her opponent knows people in the judiciary who often disrupt carrying out her case. She thinks that if this verdict is against a simple person, it would have been carried out long ago.

Karima Al-Ghashm, another lady says that she has been waiting for nine years for her verdict to be carried out. During this period, three heads of high court had been appointed in this post and none of them could carry out her verdict.

Cheating and extortion

We met Hamoud in a corner in the high court. He accused the court secretaries of cheating. They often work as tax collectors. They extort people. The court secretary said my papers are lost though, I gave him three thousand Yemeni Rials. I complained to his seniors three times but nothing happened.

Lack of trust

Procrastination in ruling the cases or carrying them out lead many people to find other ways for resolving their problems. A man from the village of Alagios- Shara'b confirmed that he resolved his case in his own way. His brother was murdered. The killer ran to the mountains. ” I didn't go to judiciary or any other state institutions because they delay cases, he said. We destroyed the killer's house and chased him to the mountains. Now we are besieging him till we find a way of killing him.

Judiciary corruption

The point of view of most of those we have met, confirm that judiciary is corrupted.

Mahmoud Shaif said:

Yemeni judiciary is jelly like. Some judges are unconscience. Some of the courts are like commission offices.

Ahmed Aqeel (legal consultant) confirms this by saying that the Yemeni judiciary is rarely fair, because of corruption.

Nabil Al-Mahfadi from Albaidha thinks that the cases in the courts are not resolved, and if they are resolved, they won't be executed properly.

Ali Salem, (a lawyer) says: resolutions that are not carried out and corrupted judges that are not held accountable. There are people who are beyond the power of law.

Judiciary is not independent

If this is the case in the Yemeni judiciary, how can it be resolved?

Ahmed Abdullah Alshami (lawyer) attributes the judiciary dependence to lack of qualification and training of judges and staffers personnel. The judiciary transfer is also to blame. Some judges are transferred to positions other than their specializations. A commercial judge for instance will be transferred to a penal post, while a traffic judge will be transferred to a commercial one.

Ali Salim also a lawyer agrees that the reason of the disorder is the dependency, because there is no separation between the three powers, as in article (147) of the constitution.

Nahla Al qadasi (lawyer) says that one of the impedances is that some judges don't believe in the woman's ability to be a lawyer. This obstructs our commitments towards our clients. Also courts locations amid crowded market places, and the narrow court rooms, doesn't give a chance for easy procedure, and leads to tension and psychological unrest that give an impression of unreal procedures.

Bribery became a must

Consultant Ahmed Aqeel : Attributes the judicial disorders to three factors: The corrupt judge inside the judiciary system. He sees the litigant parties as sources of income. There are also corrupt judicial assistants, staffers and secretaries. The litigants also play a role by bribing the judges. Abdul fatah Aqeel (lawyer) has the same point of view. He says: The real flaw in judiciary is in the staffers. They don't follow the right procedures. They trifle with the litigants files for the sake of bribery. The judiciary fees law warrants ten thousand Rials for copying a paper from a file, but the clerks photocopy it for only one thousand. He confirms that the main reason for corruption in the judiciary is the bribery. The reason for its prevalence as he says is the corrupt judge. When the litigants know that there is a corrupt judge, they get scared, not from their opponents but from the judge himself. They bribe him in order to be secured from his harm.

The citizens do not claim their rights

The public and the lawyers accused the administration and court staffers to be the source of corruption because they cheat people. We faced them with these accusations. Here are their responses.

Abdul Salam Shamsan (Taiz appeal court secretary, Personal Status section). He said :

The duty of a court secretary is to prepare a synopsis of the case after the minute of the case is written and signed by the judge or head of the court.

Then the synopsis is handed over to the judge together with the file. The judge will certainly know if there is any fraud, because he compares it with the file. The case's owner can complain to the judge if he finds a fraud in his case. He admitted that there could be fraud, but he blames chiefs (Aqil Alhara), and the security for that, because they don't inform the plaintiff of the time of their cases. The citizens are also responsible for trying to give bribes to some of the weak willed.