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Chief Registrar asked to deal with favoritism in Judiciary

By Michael Odeng and Farooq Kasule

Added 8th September 2020 02:32 PM

The Chief Justice suggested that transfer of judicial officers should be made in November so that they report to the new station of work in January, the following year.

Chief Registrar asked to deal with favoritism in Judiciary

The acting Chief Registrar, Tom Chemutai (L) handing over instrument of power to Sarah Langa as judiciary official looks on .This was High Court in Kampala on September 4, 2020. Photo by Micheal Odeng

The Chief Justice suggested that transfer of judicial officers should be made in November so that they report to the new station of work in January, the following year.

COURT|CHIEF REGISTRAR

KAMPALA - The Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, has asked the newly appointed Chief Registrar, Sarah Langa Siu, to avoid favoritism in the execution of her work.

On August 22, this year, President Yoweri Museveni appointed Langa as the new Chief Registrar of Courts of Judicature, replacing Tom Chemutai, who was serving in acting capacity after Esta Nambayo, was appointed as a high court judge.

"There is a practice of favoritism in the Judiciary. Every judicial officer must have the same benefit and measure. Everybody must have the opportunity to work in Kampala while others should face upcountry challenges," Owiny-Dollo said.

Officiating the handover of the office of the Chief Registrar at the High Court in Kampala, the Chief Justice said a judicial officer should only decline to be transferred in exceptional cases.

He suggested that transfer of judicial officers should be made in November so that they report to the new station of work in January, the following year.

During the handover, acting Chief Registrar, Tom Chemutai handed over to the new registrar, Langa, the seal of court, a copy of the Constitution of Uganda, a copy of the Judicial Administration Act, and a file containing the handover report.

The Chief Justice also called on the new Chief Registrar to always consider deploying and transferring clerks to areas, where they understand the language of locals.

"Misinterpretation is very dangerous. Always clerks are deployed in areas, where they are not well versed with the language of the locals yet communication is very important while interpreting to an accused," he noted.  

Owiny-Dollo commended Chemutai for his work, especially, in spearheading the enactment of the Administration of the Judiciary Bill, 2018 that among others, handle the retirement benefits of Judges.

The Principal Judge, Dr. Justice Flavian Zeija said, "The Chief Registrar's office will sometimes require you to make hard decisions, which will annoy and make others happy, but it is okay so long as it is made in good faith".

Following a recent tour at upcountry courts, Flavian noticed that judicial officers send reports to the head office in Kampala of what is lacking in their courts, but do not receive feedback.

He, therefore, called on the registrar to follow up the issues with the administration and give timely feedback to the magistrates' court heads.

The Judiciary Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana expressed pleasure to have a Chief Registrar, who is a woman, saying he has been championing for women equality.

He described the registrar as a person with integrity. "If we appoint someone who is corrupt, we shall have problems. We need people with integrity like Langa to head the Judiciary contracts committee, which she was chairing," he said.

Bigirimana also suggested that new judicial officers should be taken through the process of training immediately they are employed in order to avoid unnecessary mistakes while executing their duties.

Chief Registrar Langa highlighted 12 key priority issues she will work on, which among others, include enhancing magistrates' jurisdiction, implementation of case backlog reduction strategy, timely induction of new judicial officers and improving better working conditions for judicial officers.

"We shall empower magistrates so that we can address the issue of case backlog in our courts of law because they are the majority," she pledged.

Langa added, "I will perform my duties with passion."

Registrar Chemutai revealed that during his tenure in office, 11 errant court bailiffs were punished and four of them had their licenses revoked.

Who is Langa?  

Langa joined the Judiciary 12 years ago and has risen through the ranks from Magistrate Grade I to deputy registrar.  

In 2015, the Chief Justice emeritus Bart Katureebe awarded her a certificate of recognition for outstanding performance.  

In 2014, Langa served as the Anti-Corruption Court assistant registrar and organised the Court's first open Day.  

The Day has since been adopted as one of the activities to commemorate the International Anti-Corruption Week.  

She also chairs the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) Accountability Sub-Committee under the Human Rights and Accountability Working Group.  

Langa holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration from Uganda Management Institute (UMI) and Master's degree in Law.  

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