By Moses Walubiri
A trailblazing report about governance indicators in Uganda has parted curtains on the state of people’s inadequate awareness of institutions that dispense justice, with more Ugandans indicating a preference for Local Council and police force when seeking justice.
The National Governance Baseline Survey (NGBS) 2013/14 released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) on Wednesday and a first of its kind, highlights a string of governance indicators ranging from transparency in government, access to justice, human rights and political representation.
When asked the kind of institutions they rely on to get access to justice, majority of the respondents said LCs and police with judiciary coming a distant third.
The problem seems to be compounded by the revelation that only less than 11% of Ugandans are aware of key offices in the administration of justice – Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and Attorney General.
However, 45% of the respondents indicated awareness of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, although less than 2% reported seeking its services in the year preceding the survey.
Ugandans prefer LCs and the Police Force to the judicial system when seeking justice
Article 120 of the constitution confers upon the DPP powers to institute criminal proceedings against any person or authority.
The fact that few aggrieved Ugandans have the resources to finance private prosecutions of cases, the office of DPP is an indispensable cog in the dispensation of justice.
When contacted, DPP’s Deputy Public Relations Officer, Jane Nakimbugwe, admitted the inadequacy of awareness of DPP’s office and its role by many Ugandans, revealing that “some confuse DPP with judiciary.”
“We are rolling out a Clients Charter in all regions of the country where we intend to meet the people who consume our services, telling them what we do and what we expect from them,” Nakimbugwe said.
During the report’s launch, UBOS Executive Director, Ben Mungyereza, rooted for increased publicity about institutions concerned with access to justice and human rights to “help people fight for their rights.”
Numerous reports about the spike in incidents of mob justice in Uganda partly attribute it to people losing faith in the judiciary on account of unwieldy bureaucracy of the judiciary and the resultant high cost in terms of finances.
Uganda has not had fully constituted LC for close to ten years following a petition by Rubaramira Ruranga in 2006 impugning the legal frame work governing the polls.
Meanwhile, majority of respondents rate LC111s, LCvs ahead of Member of Parliament in terms of performance.
On the overall indicators of democracy – accountability, fight against corruption, access to information in possession of the state – more than 50% respondents feel the country is on the right track.
The NGBS was sanctioned by Government in 2011 with the survey conducted last year.
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