Public interviews for judicial candidates

Chief justice Peter Shivute

The Judicial Service Commission will for the first time conduct public interviews of candidates nominated to be appointed as judges of the High Court.
The Office of the Judiciary announced yesterday that public interviews of three shortlisted candidates for appointment as High Court judges will be held in the Supreme Court in Windhoek on Friday next week.

This is after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) decided in September this year to amend the JSC regulations to open the way for aspirant judges to be interviewed in public.

The three candidates for appointment as High Court judges are Namibia’s chief magistrate, Philanda Christiaan, who is currently an acting judge of the High Court, and lawyers Beatrix de Jager, who is practising law as a member of the Society of Advocates of Namibia, and Slysken Makando.

Chief justice Peter Shivute published a change of the JSC regulations in the Government Gazette at the end of last week.

The change affects two parts of the regulations, which previously stated that when candidates for appointment as judges of the High Court and Supreme Court are interviewed by the JSC, such interviews are conducted in private.

The changed regulations now state that when the JSC decides to have interviews for candidate judges, the interviews must take place in public.

The amendment of the regulations comes after criticism from some quarters that the JSC has been acting without transparency when considering the recommendation of judges to be appointed by the president.

The JSC regulations do not oblige the commission to conduct interviews of candidates nominated for appointment as judges, but state that the JSC may have oral interviews of candidates “if it deems it necessary”.

In terms of the Constitution, the president appoints judges – and also Namibia’s prosecutor general and ombudsman – on a recommendation from the JSC.

The JSC has five members: the chief justice, the deputy chief justice, the attorney general, and two lawyers nominated by professional bodies representing legal practitioners in Namibia.

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