PIC: Justices of the court of appealled by Owiny Dollo and other advocates. (Credit: Adolf Ayoreka)
MBARARA - Three Justices of the Court of Appeal led by Deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo on Monday opened a criminal session that is going to handle 51 criminal cases in 30 days at Mbarara High Court circuit.
The session is to handle 14 defilement cases, 20 murder cases, 14 cases of robbery, 1 case of obtaining money by false pretence and two manslaughter cases.
The other justices are Christopher Izama Madrama and Cheborion Barishaki.
Owiny-Dollo inspected a guard of honour and was later ushered into the court where the session that involved stakeholders, members of the bar and those from Justice Law Order Sector (JLOS).
Judge Flavian Zaija the senior resident judge at Mbarara High Court in his remarks noted that initially, the Court of Appeal had been based in Kampala which has been costly for both litigants and their lawyers.
He asked advocates to ensure that litigants in this criminal session are well represented.
Justice Owiny inspecting the guard of honour at Mbarara high court.(Credit: Adolf Ayoreka)
Owiny-Dollo, in his remarks revealed that the Court of Appeal is understaffed and said that so far, they have only 13 justices to handle a population of over 40million people.
He said the manpower is still wanting and suggested that it would be better if they were increased to 28, to be able to handle the workload.
Owiny-Dollo further noted that considering the workload of cases on their respective desks, it would be better if each region in Uganda is given a resident judge of the Court of Appeal.
“Rather than coming here as sessional birds, it would be prudent enough to hear these appeals at a regional level instead of centralising them to Kampala. The problem is that we are under staffed, we lack man power to handle these cases, however, we have always tried and we shall keep on trying to ensure that we deliver justice to the people,” said Owiny-Dollo.
He also pointed out that murder cases in the country have increased and he attributed this to illegal guns in the hands of wrong elements. He called upon District Intelligence Security Officers (DISOs) and other security agencies to work tooth and nail to eradicate this problem.
“I think this is a societal issue not a judiciary issue to ensure that there are preventive measures of crime rather than thinking of curative measures. There are so many guns in the hands of wrong elements and these guns are used to commit criminal cases.
Members of the bar stakeholders listening to Owiny.(Credit: Adolf Ayoreka)
I am sure we in the judiciary cannot reverse this, but members of the society and security agencies have a big role to play in ensuring that crimes are weeded out and guns are recovered,” he added.
Justice Cheborion however asked lawyers to ensure that they are ready for the session.
“We expect you to be present as advocates so that when your file is read, you are available. For those who will not be present, it will not stop the session from continuing; come prepared to argue your cases, we do not want to hear an advocate saying he is holding brief for his colleague.
Most times, we have realised that advocates are the ones that delay justice especially when they come up with like 20 applications in one case,” he said.
However, lawyer Emmanuel Tumbwebaze suggested that the Court of Appeal should also think of having a civil session to handle cases like land conflicts which he said is the basis for most criminal cases.