Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Government will not increase the pay of judicial officers because it is currently focusing on Infrastructure development, President Yoweri Museveni has said. He was speaking during the opening of the 21st annual Judge’s conference at Serena Hotel in Kampala on Monday.
Museveni noted that judges have been pushing him to increase their numbers as well as improve their welfare but there is no money to do so. He said he will not heed to the prayers of judicial officer from improved welfare because he wants them to first use the available resources carefully since they are not the only ones affected.
Museveni also said judicial officers need to help him to come up with a harmonized salary structure for all public servants instead of looking at one category of people because of insufficient funds. He cited the example of armed forces who he said are not well off both in salary and numbers, but are doing well in regards to the management of security of the country.
Museveni’s statements contradict earlier promises by the Constitutional and Justice Affairs and Public Service Ministers to increase the pay of public servants in a phased money following strikes by lecturers, judicial officer and other government workers.
Museveni noted that previously whenever there was a case black log, Sub county Chiefs and other society leaders would preside over some matter to reduce the case back log. He appealed to judicial officers to prioritize and see how they can resolve some of their problems using the available financial and human resource.
Speaking at the same event, the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, General Kahinda Otafiire said the judicial officers spend a lot of time handling cases and don’t have time to engage in other income generating activities.
He appealed to the Finance Ministry to see how they can fulfill some of the demands made by Parliament in 2009, which include increasing the number of judicial officers.
The Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe, said they are still short of the required manpower in the judiciary. He argued that given their current strength, each judicial officer is expected to dispose of about six cases each day, which is humanly impossible.
Statistics from the judiciary show that the Supreme Court is fully constituted with 11 judges while the Court of Appeal has only 12 out of the required 15 justices. The gaps at the Court of Appeal has left the available Justices to handle a workload of over 7000 cases .
There are 52 judges at high court of the required 82 justices. The high court Judges are expected to handle over 63,143 pending cases. This implies that each judge is expected to handle 101 cases each month and 5 cases per day for 22 working days. At High Court there are 52 Judges instead of 82.
There are only 44 Chief Magistrates out of the required 100 magistrate with a backlog of 66,885 cases. Only 108 of the gazetted 432 magistrate’s courts across the country are operational.
The 21st four day annual Judges Conference is running under the theme “, Judicial Ethics, Integrity and Accountability: A precondition for improved Access to Justice and Sustainable Development “.
It seeks to put in place deliberate procedures which will enable the judiciary to effectively deliver justice to Ugandans through improved individual and institutional performance.