“There is a lot of interferences, direct or indirect, in judicial officers’ work.
JUDICIARY | POLITICS
KAMPALA - The Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA) has decried political interference in the work of judicial officers saying it denies people from accessing justice freely.
UJOA president Godfrey Kaweesa said that although the courts of judicature are expected to dispense justice to the people of Uganda freely, they are being impeded by a lot of political interferences, omissions and commissions on the side of the state, which result into a very challenging situation.
Kaweesa, who is also the Chief Magistrate of Iganga, said this during the stakeholders' forum, the first of its kind, organized by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) under the theme ‘towards greater coordination'. The occasion took place at Silver Springs Hotel, Kampala.
UJOA is an umbrella body that brings all judicial officers together to discuss and resolve issues pertaining to their day to day work in the administration of justice in the country.
"There is a lot of interferences, direct or indirect, in judicial officers' work. Sometimes you find the doctrine of "order from above" so live especially in lower courts. People are given bail or acquitted based on legal requirements and provisions, but immediately they are re-arrested by undefined power sources," Kaweesa told the forum.
Article 128(1)(2) prohibits interference of other players in the judicial officers' work.
However Kaweesa said: "you find in some instances especially at lower bench, police and other security organs are more powerful than the court to the extent of interfering with the court process."
He appealed to the Government to increase the salaries of judicial officers at all levels and provide magistrates with strong vehicles which would enable them visit the locus in quo whenever the need arises so that they do not cling on transport provided by litigants, which he said compromises them
Meanwhile, the registrar the registrar of the Directorate of Educate and Public Affairs, Ronald Sekaggya, who presented a paper on public perception on access to justice from the JSC's civic education, warned unlicensed public places of worship against conducting marriages.
Sekaggya said that although some of those ministries are registered and are long established, they are not permitted to conduct marriages, because they do not have licenses permitting them to celebrate marriages as required under the Marriage Act.
"Ministers shall not celebrate a marriage in a place that is not licensed, The subsequent acquisition of a license cannot cure the nullity. This matter affects land rights and succession," Sekaggya stated.
He proposed measures to improve the administration of justice including strengthening the JSC that would receive information on corruption against judicial officers with power to dismiss any judge or magistrate found guilty and allowing resignation of those who cannot cope with ethical standards.
He also suggested financial and technical assistance for systems, institutions that perform watch-dog duties over judicial and public officers.