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Delay to pass Administration of Judiciary Bill irks Speaker

Otafire (left) faced fire from parliament. FILE PHOTO @parliament_ug

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has expressed concern over the continued delays to debate and pass the Administration of Judiciary Bill.

The bill seeks to provide for and strengthen the independence of the Judiciary. It is also meant to operationalize articles in the constitution that deal with the Judiciary as an independent arm of government.

On Thursday, Parliament for the second time failed to debate and pass the Bill following information from the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee Chairperson, Jacob Oboth Oboth, that he was discussing with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire some contentious issues in the Bill.

This comes after an earlier appeal by Otafire for two more weeks to enable him reconcile with the committee on different recommendations made.

Otafiire pleaded for more time from Kadaga.

Kadaga objected saying that once the committee files a report, the Bill becomes a business of Parliament and not anyone else’s business.

Jinja Municipality East MP, Paul Mwiru, said that the move seems to undermine processes in committees of parliament arguing that the Legal committee had already interfaced with the Minister on the matter before filing a report.

Kadaga added that the minister and the committee chairperson cannot amend the report quietly since it has already been presented to the House.

Opposition Chief Whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda also weighed in suggesting that parliament goes ahead to consider the Bill and the minister only intervenes on matters of contention.

Oboth further argued that Otafiire had formally written to him in a letter copied to the Speaker and Deputy Speaker seeking harmonization on issues regarding constitutionalism in the Bill. But Kadaga said that she had not received the letter from the Minister.

Kadaga maintained her view saying that the harmonization can be done on the floor of parliament concerning the Bill. She ruled that the Bill will be debated on Tuesday next week without fail.

The Administration of Judiciary Bill contains a clause on the retirement benefits for judicial officers, which has been subject of contention for a long time.

It proposes that judicial officers retire with their full benefits. Besides catering for the retirement benefits, the Bill seeks to ensure that the Judiciary manages the recruitment, supervision, and discipline of its staff.

It also seeks to create guidelines and reference for a legal and justice system by spelling out jurisdiction divisions, conditions for trials, sentencing and court fees.

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