The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) opposition party has downplayed the significance of the recently constituted committee by the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe, to probe into corruption allegations in the judiciary.
FDC says the committee is insignificant and incapable of sufficiently investigating the corruption allegations especially where individuals at the top level within the Judiciary are involved.
Last week, the Chief Justice announced a six-member taskforce to investigate allegations of corruption in the arm of government he presides over and report back to him in a period of two months.
In the Office Instruction dated July 30, 2019, Katureebe tasked the Taskforce headed by the Inspector of Courts, Immaculate Busingye to commence business with immediate effect.
Other members of the team include Vincent Emmy Mugabo, the Registrar/Public Relations Officer, Susan Abinyo, the Registrar Magistrates Affairs and Data Management, Godfrey Kawesa, the President UJOA, Ayebare Tumwebaze, the Assistant Registrar in the Office of the Chief Registrar/Projects and Solomon Muyita, the Senior Communications Officer.
The instructions follow a series of reports by government owned newspaper, New Vision revealing some of the judicial officers involved in corruption scandals.
Addressing reporters at the party headquarters on Monday, the FDC spokesperson, Ibrahim Semujju Nganda instead proposed that an independent committee comprising of eminent lawyers be tasked with undertaking the probe.
“The Judiciary should subject itself to an external investigation. There is no way you are going to get staff to investigate staff including their bosses,” Semujju said.
“If you look at the list of those announced by the Chief Justice, they are largely junior and middle cadre staff of the judiciary. Now, the Chief Justice has tasked them with the responsibility to investigate including probably himself”.
He said this probe can be led by senior lawyers with an “impeccable record” and outlined among others Prof Joe Oloka Onyango, Prof Fredrick Ssempebwa and Prof Slyvia Tamale.
“As FDC, we think the judiciary will need to be subjected to a through investigation. You can’t get junior officers. Maybe this is a cover up”.
Several studies have shown that court officers bribes from litigants in order to have their cases listed and to influence the outcome of case judgments and due to such systematic corruption in the justice sector, access to justice is for sale where the highest bidder takes it all.
The taskforce by the Chief Justice will make a report to the Chief Justice with recommendations on the way forward by September 30, 2019.
The Chief Justice said his administration will ensure that any court staff captured receiving a bribe will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“What has been happening is people say they have paid money for court services, but they are usually not willing to bring the evidence to us,” said Katureebe.
“We encourage such audits in all courts, and we are willing to do it as a partnership. Our aim should be to take action on the culprits by the Judicial Service Commission,” he added.