“These people stand in the courts, just waiting and when a charge has been read, they get the person and say they can talk to the magistrate to give them bail."
PIC: Justice Remmy Kasule and Chief Justice Bart Katureebe during the Pro Bono Day celebrations. (Credit: Kennedy Oryema)
KAMPALA - Justice Remmy Kasule of the Court of Appeal has warned that extortionists disguising as lawyers have flooded the courts of law.
He said these exploiters are fleecing unsuspecting Ugandans with a promise of getting them quick bail.
Kasule said they move around the courts looking for desperate relatives of a suspect that has just been charged for a particular crime. When they land on one, they lie to them that they can intercede for them before the magistrate for bail.
"After they have got money from the victim, they disappear," he warned.
While addressing the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) stakeholders at Imperial Royale, Kasule said that vice is common at Buganda Road Chief Magistrate's court and all the other magistrates' court in and around Kampala and the neighboring districts.
Some of these crooks have reportedly even gone ahead to set up sham law firms within the city centre.
Kasule explained that this group wait for a time when the city centre is not busy and put up their placards purporting to be a law firm offering cheap legal aid.
He asked the public to be vigilant and to always ask questions that seek to verify a person's identity and to also consult the Law Council whenever they fail to verify.
The Law Council is drafting a regulation that they hope will help weed out scammers.
Last week, former Uganda Law Society president Francis Gimara said the Law Council is grappling with an increasing number of cases (over 2,000 cases) against lawyers by their clients.
According to Kasule, these problems can only be addressed if the Legal Aid Policy and the Judiciary Administration Bill is passed into law.
The policies will help poor Ugandans get free representation in the courts of law and also get empowered on their rights and responsibilities as provided by the law.
The stakeholders meeting was held to devise collective strategies for the passing of the legal aid and administration of justice bills.
The Legal Aid Bill is meant to improve the access to justice, especially to the poor and vulnerable who are ignorant about their rights and cannot afford the costs of legal services while the Judiciary Administration Bill gives the judiciary autonomy and independence from the other two arms of government.
Wim Stoffers, the head of programmes at Democratic Governance Facility, noted that a strong legal framework is very important in enabling access to justice and strengthening the demand and supply side of justice.
He noted that the two bills when passed into law, will not only enhance the independence of the judiciary, but will also improve its effectiveness.
Annet Wakabi from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) stated that the pieces of legislation will impact on good governance, ensure credible access to justice and help in fostering the protection and fulfillment of human rights.