Five months after government doubled judicial officers’ pay, President Museveni has once again promised to raise the salaries and other benefits for judges in order “to get them out of temptation,” of engaging in corruption deals and delaying justice.
The President assured judicial officers at all levels that their salary enhancement will continue until the comparable international standard is reached, adding that the “institution of judiciary has a unique role of peace making in society.’’
“We don’t want a former judge to hang around with lawyers trying to look for a part-time job. You should retire with your dignity - car escorts. This is to get our people out of temptation,” Mr Museveni said.
“A fair Judiciary will definitely help us jump on the bus of modernisation,” he added.
Mr Museveni made the pledge yesterday while opening the 22nd Annual Judges Conference in Kampala.
In August last year, government fulfilled the promise to increase the salary of judges and magistrates in the 2019/20 financial year that started on July 1, with some officers getting about 100 per cent increment.
According to the new salary structure released by the Ministry of Public Service, the High Court judge’s pay was increased from Shs9m to Shs17.55m
A Court of Appeal/ Constitutional Court Justice is now pocketing a monthly salary of Shs17.9m up from Shs9.3m.
Likewise, a Supreme Court justice is now earning Shs18.3m up from Shs9.6m
The President said last year’s salary increment was “just endozo [starter], we are going to continue but more importantly.”
However, the President didn’t reveal when judicial officers will have their salaries increased.
“I will insist and have them [judges’ salaries] handled. First of all, they [judges] are not many because one of the big problem with remuneration is numbers. So salary enhancement, we shall continue enhancing until we reach to comparably the international standards,” Mr Museveni said.
He also promised to consider improving the retirement packages of the judicial officers.
“They should retire with their either full salary or at least either half of their salary or 80 per cent. I will discuss this with his Lordship [Chief Justice Bart] Katureebe. This will keep them out of temptation. We don’t want a former judge to hang around with lawyers trying to look for a part time job. You should retire with your dignity - car escorts. This is to get our people out of temptation,” Mr Museveni said.
“We should really cushion them [judges]. In fact, it should be even part of the terms of services of employment that bonce you retire, you go with your car, escort and because of the numbers think it is manageable,” he added.
Addressing the issue of backlog of court cases, the President asked the Judiciary to prioritise cases; handling first the serious ones such as murder, commercial and some land cases, adding that others like divorce, could be heard later.
The President noted that as the government continues to open up factories, some of the bottlenecks like some of the court cases contribute to the hindrance of the economic growth.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, who requested the President to increase judicial officers’ pay, thanked Mr Museveni for supporting the Judiciary and making new appointments.
Focus of conference
This year’s judges conference discussed the performance of the Judiciary in the previous year, identify gaps hindering performance and make proposals to modernise and improve efficiency and effectiveness of the courts in the administration of justice in Uganda. The President also held a closed session with judges to discuss the challenges judicial officers face.
Sources said the President requested judicial officers to help him fight corruption in order to streamline service delivery. Previous reports have ranked the Judiciary among corrupt institutions in the country.