Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Museveni has asked Uganda’s judiciary to prioritise cases of murder, sexual crimes, commercial cases and land over others because of scarce resources.
“Scattering the little resources we have is very dangerous. When we do this, we do not achieve anything. Homicide, rape, Commercial and Land cases should be given priority in the courts. If there is going to be backlog, let it be of cases of divorce, assault and the like,” said Museveni as he opened the 20th Annual Judges Conference on Monday in Kampala.
He explained that it was also because of little resources that the pay of other sectors was given priority of that of judges.
“If we had not invested in other sectors such as electricity, we would be having more judges but this will be disastrous,” Museveni said.
Museveni told the the judges that at least Sh4,000 billion is given to the road sector every year, compared to the Sh134 billion allocated to the Judiciary. “That’s how I planned it…I am the authour of underfunding in the Judiciary” he stated.
“With salaries, for now let’s pay well for the professional services we need most. The other categories of staff we can handle later.”
He said government is working on reducing waste in order to fully address the issue of salaries. He said government faced three challenges — wastage, corruption and under collection of taxes. “If we manage those three, we’ll be sure that we’ll have the resources around,” he said.
The President urged the Chief Justice and Speaker of parliament to coordinate and stop wastage and corruption
“Let’s talk about managing wastage of the little resources we have. You cannot talk about having enough during this recovery stage because you’ll be deceiving yourself,” said President Museveni.
Stand on death sentence
“I will support the death sentence until I retire from work,” Museveni said, explaing that ” In our pre-Industrial society, if you want to bring chaos, remove the death sentence.”
“For us we believe in the law of Moses of an aye for an eye. In fact I have been making a mistake by not signing these death warrants. Let’s treat the society the way it is.”
Museveni said he is happy with the innovations of the present Chief Justice Bart Katureebe in the judiciary. “I keep reading in the newspapers that the Judiciary is conducting barazas. You go down to the people and pick the views of the ordinary people,” he said.
He said the Judiciary can be independent as long as it’s aligned to the aspirations of the people. ” It would be a disaster to have an independent Judiciary that does not conform to the aspirations of the people.”
Katureebe speaks out
CJ Katureebe urged that the country should strive to build the judiciary that everyone will be proud of, warning that there is need to check other institutions that purport to sanction court orders.
“Judicial independence is fundamental to any democracy. There is need to respect the decisions of court. It is unacceptable to have other functionaries of Government purporting to review the decisions of Court,” he said.
On scarce resources, Katureebe said “We are aware that resources are scarce and we know there are many competing interests. But the justice needs of the community are not receiving the priority they deserve. We need to choose at this point whether to appoint more Magistrates or increase the number of MPs.”
“Whereas judicial officers are doing their best to handle the cases before them, the filing of cases has tripled stretching them beyond their human capacity. The Judiciary needs 530 Magistrates Grade one but we have only 192.”
We need LCs
Katureebe said that Local Council 1 and 2 Courts need to be restablished to address millions of Justice needs that the formal system cannot handl
“Local council courts need to be reestablished to address the needs of the population that formal courts cannot do,” he said.
The 20th Annual Judges Conference started on Monday at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala. Up to 250 delegates including judges, justices and other judicial officers and other Judiciary stakeholders are in attendance.