JUDICIARY Latest Features

Judiciary for Continuous Court Sessions

Kampala. The Judiciary has set a side over Shs1bn for clearing close to 1,000 capital offences this Financial Year.  As at May 1, there were 1,512 prisoners from Luzira, Kigo and Nakasongola prisons had been committed to the High Court for trial.

To clear backlog and to put to rest complaints of delayed justice and allegations of corruption, the Criminal Division of the High Court has scheduled monthly court sessions in place of quarterly sessions. 

A court session is where a judicial officer allocated a certain number of files to be cleared within a specified time. 

According to Assistant Registrar Criminal Division, His Worship Emmanuel Baguma, this approach eliminates allegations of corruption and complaints of delayed justice.

The sessions are targeting accused persons facing capital offenders. Each of the four Hon. Judges at the Criminal Division will handle at least 80 cases per month. The continuous sessions are one of the strategies that have been adopted by the Judiciary to manage case backlog.

The Judges earmarked for these marathon sessions are; Hon. Justice Wilson Kwesiga(the head of the Criminal Division), Hon. Justice Yasin Nyanzi, Hon. Lady Justice Flavia Anglin Senoga and Hon. Lady Justice Elizabeth Kibula Kabanda.

Work plan

Last week, the Principal Judge, Hon. Justice Dr Yorokamu Bamwine, met with judges and registrars of the Criminal Division and approved the work plan of the Financial Year saying the Judiciary is committed to providing the resources required to enable the Judges execute the work plan. "If followed to the letter, it will definitely deal with the long outstanding challenge of backlog," he said.

According to His Worship Baguma, at least two of the four Judges, attached to the division, will handle 40 cases every month starting this July. On top of these,the Judges will be handling an unspecified number of plea bargains.

"Starting on July 21, Hon. Lady Justice Kabanda will be handling a special Plea Bargaining session with 114 cases...On July 31, 2017, Hon. Justice Kwesiga will be handling a court session of 40 cases," His Worship Baguma shares.

Criteria

He says the cases, going forward, are going to be selected based on the following criteria;

  • The principle of first in, first out
  • Cases of people with disabilities
  • Cases of public interest
  • Cases that may cause insecurity in prison
  • Cases of mothers both in prison and those out on bail
  • Gender balance both in prison and out of prison.

His Worship Baguma says they have tasked prison authorities to submit updated monthly lists of committals for easy monitoring and evaluation of old cases to enable the division manage the problem of case backlog. There are 84 accused persons whose cases date back to 2013 who are set to benefit from this access to justice initiative.

The numbers

The Secretary to Judiciary / Permanent Secretary, Mr. Kagole Expedito Kivumbi in his presentation to Judiciary Finance Committee meeting recently stated Shs2.5billion had been earmarked for court sessions, capacity building, legal reference materials and Mediation / ADR for this first quarter of the Financial Year.

According to the 2015 National Case Census Report, 19,838 cases are pending in the High Court with 254 cases more than 10 years old.

Posted 17th, July 2017
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