Judge blames corruption for case backlog

Saturday May 28 2016

The chief inspector of courts, Justice

The chief inspector of courts, Justice Augustine Nshimye (Right), address prisoners at Malukhu prison in Mbale District on Monday. PHOTO BY DAVID MAFABI 

By David Mafabi

Mbale. The Chief Inspector of Courts, Justice Augustine Nshimye, has said corruption and having fewer High Court sessions are the main causes of the huge case backlogs in courts.
He said unpreparedness of lawyers and police, delays in delivery of judgments and shortage of judges are the other reasons.
“Our target as an inspectorate is to increase the number of High Court sessions and ensure all judges and magistrates at all levels are evaluated annually according to the number of cases handled,” said Justice Nshimye during a visit to Malukhu prison on Monday.

He received information that there are suspects who have been on remand for 10 years without appearing in court.
“It is illegal for these people to be here, they should apply for bail immediately,” said Justice Nshimye, also a Supreme Court judge.
He said sometimes the parties involved in the case are unprepared and delay in committing suspects to courts for trial due to bribery at various levels escalates the problem.
“We need the High Court to have more than two sessions in a year to improve service delivery and efficiency in order to bring down the backlog,” he said.

Mr Emmanuel Olari, who spoke on behalf of other inmates, said many of them are often struck off the list of those who are lined up to appear in court and they have overstayed on remand without trial.
“My lord Justice, we have people who have been here since 2006, we have very old and disabled men. We have boys below the age of 18 detained with us here. Sometimes the old men can’t walk to get their food. We are asking that you pardon these,” Mr Olari, a teacher charged with aggravated defilement, said.

The officer in charge of the Malukhu prison, Mr Christopher Okware, said the facility produces most of the suspects in court daily and that it is the courts to determine the suspects to be committed for trial.
The Resident District Commissioner, Mr James Shilaku, urged the Judiciary to sensitise the public about plea-bargain and Small Claims dispute resolution mechanisms to ease case backlog.