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Justice Owiny-Dollo criticises govt over new constituencies

By Paul Watala

Added 5th August 2020 03:29 PM

Every creation of a constituency and district must be followed by the recruitment of a new judge or magistrate for us to render justice.

Justice Owiny-Dollo criticises govt over new constituencies

The acting Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo. Photo by Paul Watala

Every creation of a constituency and district must be followed by the recruitment of a new judge or magistrate for us to render justice.

COURT 

MBALE- The acting Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, has criticised the Government for creating new districts and constituencies without recruiting more judges and magistrates to man the new administrative units.

Addressing journalists at Mbale High Court, Owiny-Dollo said the new constituencies and districts are going to strain the Judiciary.

The Chief Justice was in Mbale to open the second Court of Appeal ‘scientific' session at Mbale High Court.

"Last week, the Government created 47 new constituencies without a recruiting plan for the magistrates and judges to work in the new stations," he said.

"Every creation of a constituency and district must be followed by the recruitment of a new judge or magistrate for us to render justice. The High Court should have a minimum of 150 judges and each circuit at least 10 judges," Owiny-Dollo said.

The Chief Justice said currently each circuit has two resident judges instead of 10. He noted that for justice to be rendered fairly, each district must have at least four magistrates.

Owiny noted that the Government plans to recruit at least 30 judges of Court of Appeal.  Currently, the Court of Appeal has 12 active justices.

He said other countries consider case backlog after eight months, but in Uganda there are cases that have been  pending for between two to five years.

The Chief Justice noted that a few years back when Uganda had 54 judges, Malaysia boasted over 1,500 High Court judges.

"The former chief justice was once challenged to explain by his counterpart from Malaysia how he managed to render justice to 40 million people with just 50 judges," Owiny-Dollo said.

"We currently need 154 senior active judges to render fair justice to Ugandans. Every creation of new district should have a district judge and four magistrates," he said.

He said judges must have enough time to read through the files and make fair judgments, adding that most of the judges due to the heavy workload and case backlog, are forced to make judgments under pressure from conflicting parties.

"Our court is for justice not for statistics. We do not need to count cases disposed of, but how many have settled fairly," Owiny-Dollo said.

"Creation of new constituencies and district shows that the population is big and needs judicial services nearer and effectively," he added.

He said the Government must recruit 47 magistrates following the creation of the new constituencies.

Court sessions

The Court of Appeal session will be presided over by three justices: Frederick EgondaNtende, Cheborion Barishaki and Muzamiru Kibeedi.

The prosecution team is led by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Justice Jane Frances Abodo.

The cases to be heard include aggravated defilement, armed robbery, murder, and aggravated defilement.

Ayebare Tumwebaze, the acting registrar in the Court of Appeal, said the session will be ‘scientific' where the appellants/prisoners will not come to court due to COVID-19.

The hearings will be conducted via Zoom. Lawyers will carry along laptop computers while the court will provide the Internet.

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