By Anne Mugisa
and Hillary Nsambu
THE Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki, has criticised the Government for interfering in the execution of court orders, especially those related to land matters.
He also announced that the Judiciary is developing an evaluation instrument to assess the performance of judges.
Opening the 12th annual judges conference yesterday at Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe, Odoki complained that the Police scrutinise all court orders on land matters countrywide to determine whether they should be executed.
â€œThe number of players in the resolution of land disputes has risen to include a Land Enforcement Unit in the Police that scrutinises all court orders in respect of land matters to determine whether execution should go ahead or not,â€ he said.
â€œIt has, therefore, remained extremely difficult to enforce court decisions especially in respect of land matters. Let us respect established procedure to resolve disputes.â€
The Chief Justice listed the challenges facing the courts as the increase land-related violence, corruption, child sacrifice and human trafficking.
He further cited an increase in drug trafficking and sophisticated crime like money laundering and cyber crime.
As several judges are about to reach retirement age, Odoki asked the Government to provide adequate retirement benefits.
He said retiring judges are apprehensive about their future, something which could affect their performance.
Judges at the Supreme Court retire at 70 years while those in the High Court retire at 65.
The Chief Justice also requested for the appointment of more judges, saying the Judiciary still lacks crucial manpower.
According to the secretary to the Judiciary, the Supreme Court has only seven out of the approved 11 judges while the Court of Appeal has seven instead of 15 judges. She added that the High Court has a shortfall of 44 judges, with only 38 in service.
Vice-President Gilbert Bukenya said he supported the request for a retirement package.
However, on interference in the execution of court orders, he said the Government is forced to act because land is a hot issue that has significantly contributed to crime.
â€œThe Government cannot sit back and just watch when things are going wrong,â€ he noted.
He asked the judiciary to carefully study the new land law and use it to help the people, assuring the judges that no judicial officer will be victimised for a judicial error or a decision people may not like.