Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The new Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has called for the appointment of more judicial officers to enable Ugandans to access justice.
Owiny-Dollo was speaking on Tuesday after being sworn in as Chief Justice together with his Deputy Richard Buteera at State House, Entebbe. The event was attended by President Yoweri Museveni. He is the 13th Chief Justice of Uganda since 1962 when the country got its independence.
‘It pains me…from Kachumbala up to Kaberamaido we have one judge, one judge and these are areas heavily populated. How can the Chief Justice ensure that there is a speedy, timely rendering of Justice when one judge has to look after 4,000 files? My immediate appeal to you as Head of this country is that we must and immediately for something,” Owiny-Dollo appealed to Museveni.
He says that they are committed and ready to dispense justice which can only be achieved with the required Human resource.
“As you tour the country you will always hear about the cases delaying, taking 10 years. Take the Commercial Court, there is in a region of 2 to 3 trillion Shillings tied up in the Commercial Court of Uganda. This is the Commercial Division…I am not talking about Mbale, Gulu, Arua, Fort Portal, Kabale, Mubende, Jinja, Mukono and Masaka. Your Excellency, you can imagine what these 2 to 3 trillion would do to the economy if they were released tomorrow,” he noted.
The Chief Justice says that the money is tied up because the Commercial Division has only 5 judges. He appealed that the Executive pays more attention to enabling Ugandans to receive timely and meaningful justice since the Judiciary is committed.
“If I have 15 judges in the Commercial Court alone, in 18 months I should be able to report progress but we don’t have that manpower. If I had the necessary personnel, these cases which take 10 years…I would give you my word that if you find your case on the 31st of December in a year, I would even drive in the night and wake up that judicial officer and question what is happening,” Owiny-Dollo assured.
Owiny-Dollo said that together with his team, they will be engaging the Executive and present their views on how best the Judiciary can serve the people of Uganda.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ephraim Kamuntu said that the government was confident that the Judiciary is in the right hands with the swearing-in of the new leadership.
“Appointing them at this particular time in our electoral cycle is very timely. The judiciary is the custodian of justice and since we are going through a testing time, we need a strong judiciary that can dispense justice timely. The rule of law, as you can see, is a custodian of peace and the Judiciary is very important in this regard,” he said.
Before he was sworn-in, Owiny-Dollo was still serving as the Acting Chief Justice since 20th June when former Chief Justice Bart Katureebe retired after clocked the age of 70. Owiny-Dollo was serving as Deputy Chief Justice under Katureebe and his elevation will now make him head the Judiciary which is one of the arms of government.