Tuesday July 8 2014

Anti-graft activists demand for action against errant judicial officers



Anti-Corruption activists have asked government for speedy appropriate sanctions against judicial officers who were implicated corruption related offences.
Ms Cissy Kagaba, the Executive Director of the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) also demanded for restrictive measures including suspension and criminal prosecution against the culprits as a move to prevent the re-occurrence.
“The judicial service commission (JSC) should, as a matter of urgency desist from transferring judicial officers implicated in corruption tendencies, but instead interdict them while investigations are conducted expeditiously to get to the bottom of the issue. Whereas some of the officers may be victims of circumstances, this will, in the process improve the public confidence within the judiciary,” Ms Kagaba told journalists in Kampala.
The demands by ACCU follows release of a report dubbed ‘Temples of injustice, a report highlighting alleged abuse of office in selected magistrates’ courts in Uganda’ indicating the key drivers of corruption in the court system.
The June 2014 report highlights corruption incidence that mainly included, impunity and conspiracy between magistrates, court clerks, state prosecutors, police, and prison warders, especially in rural areas to rout justice.
The report shows the impunity with which corruption is ‘chewing’ the fiber of ethics, fairness, justice at the lower courts, the rot under which the courts sit is so insurmountable which calls for urgent intervention.
“If this trend continues unchecked, the judiciary continues taking baby, snail speed steps towards curbing the wild fire engulfing these courts, if action taken against the corrupt, continues to remain lukewarm, soon the justice system shall break down and the consequence will be the public taking the law into its hands,” reads the report.
Last year, ACCU petitioned the JSC seeking for action against the errant officers citing an increase in the number of complaints against court officials.
However, Mr Kagole Kivumbi, the secretary to the judiciary said that while the service commission recruits and disciplines judicial officers, transfers are done by the judiciary.
“It is true we discipline errant officers but transfer is not disciplinary matter because officers found guilty are either removed from office, demoted and or warned and in the previous 12 months, 223 cases have been completed and only one officer was found guilty,” said Mr Kivumbi adding communications have been made to the complainants and relevant stakeholders.