Today Justice Hub is publishing the third instalment of our series of exclusive interviews with African judges from across the continent. The interviews are part of our popular #MyJustice series that aims to shine a spotlight on sung and unsung heroes working to make the world a more peaceful, just and inclusive place.
Omar Othman Makungu is the Chief Justice of Zanzibar, a Tanzanian archipelago off the coast of East Africa. In this interview, Justice Makungu explains to us why he thinks bringing people together is the essence of justice.
Justice Hub: Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?
My name is Omar Othman Makungu. Currently, I am the Chief Justice of Zanzibar.
Justice Hub: What is justice to you?
Justice is very difficult to define, but justice means to bring the people together.
Justice Hub: How?
Two individuals are in conflict and they come before you, so you have to settle the matter before you to make them happier. So that’s justice.
Justice Hub: Do you always succeed in making them happy?
Justice Hub: And when you don’t?
There is another way to do [justice]. We can do arbitration and they can be very happy because every party will be satisfied. Otherwise, they have to come to the court and the court will decide. The decision will be final whether you agree with it or not you have to follow it.
Justice Hub: Without revealing any confidential information, is there an example of a case that has been brought been brought before you in the past that you can tell us about?
There are so many cases. There are husband and wife [cases] and of course [those involving] companies. The last case [I heard involved] two state corporations. They had a problem and we said “you are a state corporation, why come to the court? You are the government you have to settle your disputes with the government together. They said they need a month to settle the matter, and they settled the matter. Why would they come to the court? Here before the court, it will take 3 years without completion. So sometimes we have to use that road, otherwise, we [would] have a lot of [cases to hear].
The series of interviews with African judges were conducted in collaboration with the African Foundation for International Law and edited lightly for clarity.
More of the portraits are available here:
Somali Chief justice Ibrahim Iidle Saleeban: Peace cannot come without justice https://justicehub.org/article/somali-chief-justice-ibrahim-iidle-saleeb…
South Sudan Supreme Court Justice James Alala Deng: Justice is everything https://justicehub.org/article/south-sudan-supreme-court-justice-james-a…