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Lockdown to increase case backlog- Judiciary

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The current lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic is like to worsen the case backlog, according to the Judiciary spokesperson, Solomon Muyita. On March 19th, 2020, the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe suspended court proceedings for 32 days in line with the nationwide lockdown announced by president Yoweri Museveni to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In his communication to Judicial Officers, Katureebe said the judiciary will only attend to urgent civil matters, record new files for serious criminal offenses and hear bail applications. At the time of the suspension the judiciary had fixed over 220 special land cases for hearing in High courts in Mukono, Mbale, Masaka, Mpigi, Kabale and Jinja districts.

The Court of Appeal was also scheduled to dispose off 117 civil appeals related to loans, breach of contract, land and 7,527 other matters. In his report to the 22nd Annual Judge’s Conference held in January this year, the Principal Judge Dr. Flavian Zeija indicated that the case backlog had grown to 36,009 cases in 2019. He explained that the statics implied that there had been an increase of 88 percent in the previous two years.

According to the breakdown, the Land Division of High Court has a case backlog of 5,681 cases, Anti Corruption Court 61, and Commercial Court 1766, Criminal Division 1,276, Civil Division 1,364, Execution and Bailiffs 2,832, Family Division 2,705 while the International Crimes Division has the least number of backlog standing at 33 cases.

The Judiciary Spokesperson, Solomon Muyita, says the current lock down is likely to worsen matters. Muyita explains that the entire Judiciary was given 15 vehicles  with stickers, which means that most of their officers are unable to report for duty.

He however, says the top judiciary management will be sitting to discuss some strategies of addressing the case backlog.

A case is considered backlog after spending two years in the justice system without being concluded.

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