Judiciary Insists Govt Should Increase Number of Judges, Funding

Chief Justice Katureebe (2nd L) and Minister for Justice, Otafiire (R) welcoming VP Ssekandi at High Court on Friday. (Photo: @Bamulanzeki)

The Judiciary has again reiterated its appeal to the government for more funding as well as increasing the number of Judges which they say has sustained the problem of case backlog.

The fresh call was made Friday by the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe during the event to officially open the new Law Year at the High Court grounds in Kampala.

Chief Justice Katureebe revealed that In 2018, the Judiciary disposed of 164,534 cases (52%) which he said is no mean achievement given the circumstances in which the judiciary operates. He noted that the unresolved cases remain high due to the inadequate number of judicial officer.

He said that the idea that a Judge can attend to 5 cases everyday for 22 days a month is not practical.

“It is my humble appeal to government to implement the resolution of Parliament to increase the number of High Court Judges to 82,” the Chief Justice said, adding that it is critical that the Judiciary gets a fair share of the national resources.

“We are not even asking government to stop constructing roads and other infrastructure. All we are saying is – the money that is left over to run the rest of government, Judiciary should get a fair share to deliver justice to the people,” he said.

The plea regarding more Judges was repeated by Simon Peter Kinobe, the President of the Uganda Law Society (ULS).

“This is to call upon every member of the legal fraternity here and every member of the Executive who has the ear of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Uganda, to tell him that we need more Judges,” Kinobe said during the event.

“That is a message that should resonate at all times until the song becomes acceptable by the Head of State,” he added.

In another appeal to the government, the Chief Justice asked that judicial officers be provided with motor cycles to enable them visit places of land disputes. He said that government has already availed 20 double cabin pickups to districts like Masaka, Mubende, Iganga hoima, Jinja, Wakiso, Kabale and Tororo, but that the need is still far too high.

At the same event, the Minister for Justice and Constittuional Affairs, Gen Kahinda Otafiire called for an increase in the in-take at the Law Development Centre (LDC) to produce more human resource that will enable the ordinary Ugandan to afford legal services.

“Increase the in-take at LDC. I know Mr Kinobe you are concerned about the quality of lawyers and professional training, but let the factory determine the quality not the raw materials,” he said.

The event was also attended by the Vice President, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, the Deputy Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, Justices and lawyers.

A few days ago, President Yoweri Museveni told judicial officers that while government is cognizant of their demand for a pay rise, such demands must be made in consideration of other priority areas such as infrastructure which government is spending on.

The President said that the salaries for the judicial officers will be revised but only when the economy improves. .

Museveni made the remarks while attending the Judges’ conference at the Kampala Serena Hotel.

He was responding to the concerns raised by Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe, relating to the challenges that the judiciary faces in the execution of its duties.

Regarding the issue of staffing gaps, Museveni said that the challenge is not unique to the judiciary but cuts across other sectors.

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