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World Bank commits more sh500m for case backlog fight

By Andante Okanya

Added 28th February 2020 12:22 PM

The move is solely aimed at reducing backlog that stands at half of the 11,952 pending cases at the High Court Land Division.

World Bank commits more sh500m for case backlog fight

Bigirimana.jpg

The move is solely aimed at reducing backlog that stands at half of the 11,952 pending cases at the High Court Land Division.

World Bank has committed an additional sh500m to the Judiciary to fight case backlog, the Secretary to the Judiciary Pius Bigirimana has revealed.

Bigirimana made the disclosure on Thursday while addressing the media on the special court sessions in which over 220 land cases are expected to be cleared in 40 days, starting on Monday.

The exercise will be conducted countrywide in the next two months with Kampala slated to handle 120 cases.

"We have got an understanding with World Bank and it has given us sh300m to dispose of 220 land cases in 40 days in the first phase. It has also committed another sh500m to enable us to handle more 440 cases starting in April," Bigirimana said.

Government also made an additional sh240m for the Judiciary to fast track the land cases.

The move is solely aimed at reducing backlog that stands at half of the 11,952 pending cases at the High Court Land Division.

Bigirimana explained that they have decided to focus on land matters because a number of potential investors and key government projects have been frustrated by unresolved land matters.

"For us, we believe that if these cases are resolved, it will motivate more investors to come to our country," he said.

In a press statement issued by the Judiciary communications unit last week, it explained that the six sessions in Kampala, target 120 cases.

The five others will be conducted at Mukono, Mpigi, Masaka, Jinja, Mbale, and Kabale High Courts.

In the execution plan, acting Chief Registrar Tom Chemutai estimated that each land case can be concluded in three days.

The persistent backlog has dogged the Judiciary, with 52% of the cases that have spent over two years and above, in the court system, being categorised as backlog.

In 2017, the government proposed amendment of Article 26 of the Constitution empowers it to compulsorily take possession of private land for infrastructure and investment projects before compensation.

Government says strategic public interest public projects have been affected by land cases.

President Yoweri Museveni in subsequent media campaigns to popularize the amendment said the land law would provide for tribunals to shorten the time of appeal for discontented landowners.

The Judiciary has maintained that land case backlog, is resultant from inadequate officers, low levels of automation in processing cases and insufficient resources.

Other reasons include lack of transport to visit the land in dispute, increased filing of cases fueled by a growing economy and pressure on economic resources particularly land.

Electronic case filing starts in November

In regard to Electronic Court Case Management Information System (ECMIS), Bigirimana said it will be rolled out in November for Kampala litigants.

"ECMIS is a game-changer in the administration of justice because there will be no person to person contact between court officials and litigants in the process of filing cases which leads to corruption," Bigirimana said.  The five-year project is estimated to cost over sh9.2b.

Bigirimana also used the briefing to justify his posting to the Judiciary. "For me, I have got three positions in one. I am the Secretary to the Judiciary, the Permanent Secretary and the Accounting officer and I am legally holding the offices," Bigirimana said.

Last year, Uganda Judicial Officers Association challenged his appointment as the Permanent Secretary to the Judiciary arguing that it undermines the independence of the Judiciary. 

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