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PJ Completes Inspection of All Courts
Mr. Bigirimana (Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Judiciary) (2 Left), Hon. Justice Dr Zeija (Principal Judge) (Middle) and HW Sarah Langa(Chief Registrar) (3rd Right)

After traversing every corner of the country, the Principal Judge, Hon. Justice Dr Flavian Zeija, has inspected all High Court divisions and circuits and all courts below them.

The PJ concluded his country wide tours with a week-long inspection of courts under Gulu High Court Circuit. He was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Judiciary, Mr Pius Bigirimana and the Chief Registrar, HW Sarah Langa Siu.

With Gulu circuit covered, Hon. Justice Dr Zeija becomes the first Principal Judge to set foot in every single court in the country, save for Koome Island Magistrate's Court which will be visited when the water levels have subsided and an appropriate transport vessel to the island secured. 

Highlights of Gulu visit

In his address to court staff in Gulu, the PJ reiterated the need for ethical behavior. "Despite the challenges, you must remain ethical, avoid corruption and short term gains," he said. 

During the inspection, the PJ, PS/SJ and CR singled out Mr Talya Gerald, the Systems Administrator of Gulu and commended him for his technical support to all judicial officers in the circuit. 

"I want every ICT person to be like the Systems Administrator of Gulu. He is the only efficient SAD that I have found in the whole country," the PJ observed. 

On the other hand, Mr Bigirimana decried the deplorable state and poor workmanship of the courts at Nwoya, Amuru and Lamwo especially for the peeling walls, roofing and cracked pillars. He also called upon all staff to pick their medical insurance cards. 

The Chief Registrar went on to administer a questionnaire meant to identify the best practices, challenges and recommendations on how stations are managed. She stressed the need for coordination, cooperation and communication between judicial officers and stakeholders to amicably solve shared challenges. 

Common challenges reported in the circuit included unreliable power and water supply, inadequate staffing, lack of transport facilities, insufficient ICT equipment and overwhelmingly wide jurisdictions.   

At the various courts visited, the PJ-led team were welcomed by different district stakeholders including Resident District Commissioners, Chairpersons LC V, Chief Administrative Officers, Regional/District Police Commanders, Officers in Charge of Prisons, Resident State Attorneys among others.

Courts Visited

Amuru and Nwoya: The inspections started at Amuru Magistrates Court and proceeded to Nwoya CM Court. The In-Charge Magistrate Grade One for both courts, HW Suzan Anyeko, reported that the courts have a workload of 375 cases with 59 as backlog and 368 cases with 52 as backlog respectively.

Absence of water supply, unreliable power, a very wide geographical jurisdiction coupled with lack of a substantial Resident Magistrate at Amuru or Chief Magistrate at Nwoya and poor road network were the key challenges reported.

In regard to the wide coverage of the court, the CR advised that the court at Atiak be operationalized. The PS/SJ committed to ensure that water pipes are installed to connect Amuru court to the water source constructed by the district. It was agreed that Amuru be prioritized when allocating vehicles in the next lot of procurement.

The PJ and CR also planted trees at the court in Nwoya, which they said will act as a reminder that as the tree bears fruits, the court also ought to bear fruits of justice and peace to the people in the area.

The local leaders in Nwoya hailed the magistrate for the efficiency exhibited at the court.

Gulu High Court and Chief Magistrate Court:

From Nwoya, the PJ-led delegation proceeded to Gulu where they were received by the Resident Judge, Alex Ajiji together with the Deputy Registrar, HW Ntalo Nasulu, Chief Magistrate HW Barigye Said and Magistrate Grade One, HW Kwizera Vian.

On top of inspecting the court premises, the PJ received status reports from both the High Court and the Chief Magistrate Court. It was noted that the High Court has a workload of 1994 cases out which 808 are backlog.

From the Court premises, the PJ was led by the Gulu LC V Chairperson, Mr Christopher Opiyo Ateker on a guided tour of the land that the Gulu District Council offered the Judiciary for the construction of both a regional Court of Appeal and High Court.

Lamwo and Kitgum court:

HW Akera Derrick, the Magistrate Grade One caretaking Lamwo court reported that the newly built court which serves 681 villages and the Palabek Settlement Camp has a workload of 81 cases, with nine categorized as backlog.

On Tuesday August 31 2021, the PJ also visited Kitgum Chief Magistrate's Court. The Chief Magistrate, HW Elizabeth Akullo, in her brief to the PJ stated that the Court covers a wide magisterial area that reaches the borders of South Sudan.  It is has 11staff with a workload of 632 cases out of which 91 are backlog. 

Pader and Patongo:

On Wednesday September 1, 2021, the PJ and CR visited Pader and Patongo courts where they were received by Magistrates Grade One; HW Edward Kabayo and HW Emmanuel Drajole respectively. 

The CR commended HW Drajole for the work well done having reported a reduced workload from 1,843 to 631 pending cases within five months of being at Patongo court. The court still has a backlog of 237 cases. 

Posted 3rd, September 2021
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