PARLIAMENT'S appointments committee has completed the vetting of 11 justices out of the 12 recently appointed to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court
By Moses Walubiri & Paul Kiwuuwa
PARLIAMENT'S appointments committee has completed the vetting of 11 justices out of the 12 recently appointed to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court by President Yoweri Museveni.
Chris Obore, parliament's spokesperson, yesterday told New Vision that only Paul Mugamba who was out of the country when the committee chaired by Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, sat on Monday would be vetted at a later date.
Mugamba who has been heading the Anti-Corruption division of the High Court is among six judges of the High Court promoted to the Court of Appeal.
"He "Mugamba) communicated to the committee that he was out of the country. The committee will vet him when he is back," Obore said.
Early this month, Museveni promoted five justices of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court. These included Augustine Nshimye, Faith Mwondha, Opio Aweri, Eldad Mwanguhya and Prof. Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza.
Those promoted to the Court of Appeal included justices Alfonse Owinyi-Dollo, Elizabeth Musoke, Paul Mugamba, Simon Byabakama, Catherine Bamugemereire and Hellen Obura.
However, it's not clear whether the appointments committee had sanctioned the appointments of the 11 justices with Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige, being reticent about the issue.
"We shall issue a report on the matter soon. Wait for the report," Kibirige said when asked whether the committee had taken a decision on the appointments.
It's a constitutional requirement for parliament to approve individuals appointed to courts of judicature (high court, court of appeal and Supreme Court).
However, since it became a constitutional requirement for parliament to approve appointees to the courts of judicature with the promulgation of the 1995 constitution, parliament has never set a precedent of rejecting any judicial appointee.
According to sources inside the committee, the justices were tasked by lawmakers to proffer solutions on how to tackle the perennial problems of case backlog, corruption, loss of case files and a paucity of supervision of lower courts.
According to the judiciary senior communication officer, Solomon Muyita, the current case backlog is 32,871. Of these the High Court has 21,000; Court Appeal has 3,598, Constitutional Court (203) and Supreme Court yet to dispose of 70 cases.
Most of the newly appointed justices and judges promised the MPs that would work towards reducing the backlog provided the judicially gets better funding.
During a recent interface with the human rights committee, minister of justice and constitutional affairs, Kahinda Otafiire, revealed that government was toying with the idea of giving contracts to retired judges and justices to help clear the mounting case backlog.
Otafiire described the mooted policy shift as cheaper than recruiting new judges and justices. Before his retirement early this year, former Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki, had served three years as a justice of the Supreme Court on a contract.
Parliament vets 11 justices