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Magistrates work near disco halls

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Spectators scramble to follow a court proceeding during a trial at the shop-like Ibanda Chief Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. PHOTO BY RAJAB MUKOMBOZI 

By RAJAB MUKOMBOZI

Posted  Saturday, March 22   2014 at  02:00

In Summary

Fear for life. The Ibanda District resident magistrate says the working environment is putting their lives at risk.

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Ibanda.

The Secretary for Uganda Judiciary Officers Association (UJOA) has decried the poor working environment of up-country courts.

Speaking to Saturday Monitor in Ibanda District on Wednesday, Mr Godfrey Kaweesa, who is also the resident Chief Magistrate, said poor working conditions put judicial officers at risk.

Mr Kaweesa said Ibanda magistrate’s court is a shop-like room and is near a disco hall and metal workshop.
He expressed concern that given the prevailing security concerns in the country, terrorists can exploit such a situation to attack judicial officers.

“We preside over cases where some groups of people are displeased with the sentences. In such working conditions, your life is at risk,” Mr Kawesa said.

He cited a past incident in eastern Uganda, where under similar working conditions, one of the parties in a case, slapped a magistrate. He said such an environment slows down the court proceedings and increases case backlog.
He appealed to government to improve the working conditions for magistrates by providing vehicles, accommodation facilities as well as building decent court premises.

Officiating at the launch of Small Claims Procedure - the new method of settling small cases in a short time - in Mbarara district last week, the Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine said the judiciary was working with government to improve the working conditions of judicial officers.
Justice Bamwine’s statement followed a revelation that the High Court judge in Mbarara shares a courtroom with the Chief Magistrate.

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