Chief Justice Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny–Dollo has revealed that the poor quality of investigations done by Police detectives and a limited number of judicial officers are still a great challenge to the justice system of Uganda.
Justice Dollo made this revelation while delivering his New Law Year 2022 address on Friday at the High Court Grounds in Kampala where he said the judiciary is facing a challenge of case backlog year in and year out due to poor investigations and a shortage of manpower to handle all the cases simultaneously.
He noted that the number of judicial officers is still very small since for the judicial officers to execute their duties they need the support of administrative staff including clerks, process servers, secretaries etc.
“When the pending recruitment of 40 Chief Magistrates is done, areas such as Rakai, Kalangala, Sembabule, Kanoni, Amuria, Katakwi and Kaberamaido among others, should now have their own Chief Magistrates. In addition, the structure and establishment of non-judicial officers are still pending Cabinet approval. We appeal to Your Excellency for urgent approval of the Judiciary Structure for the indispensable non-judicial members of staff to enable a complete picture of the Courts throughout the country,” The Chief Justice said.
Justice Dollo alerted that the shortage of manpower in the Judiciary has led to the rapid increase of unsettled cases in that at the end of the year 2021, the case backlog stood at 48,836 Cases (29.43 per cent) against a caseload of 165,914 pending cases.
He emphasized that for the desired access to justice to be achieved, it is imperative that other Justice, Law and Order institutions whose performances greatly impact the performance of the Judiciary, are equally and robustly strengthened.
“The quality of police investigations has been wanting in many cases; leading to frustration of justice, as many cases collapse due to lack of persuasive evidence. Thus the need for targeted training of Police personnel. The human resource deficiency in the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions is grave. The ODPP is currently operating at 37 per cent of its approved Prosecutors structure. As of the end of the year 2021, prosecutors were unavailable in 102 Courts throughout the country where we have Magistrates ready to render justice. This has continued to cause the frustration of timely prosecutions in most Courts; hence causing an escalating case backlog.”
Dollo appealed to the president that a holistic approach in funding across the justice value chain is urgently required in order for the Judiciary to achieve its vision of administering justice to all.
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