16 judicial officers sworn in 

Ms Christa Namutebi taking oath as Assistant Registrar in Kampala on on June 1, 2023. PHOTO/COURTESY OF THE JUDICIARY 

A total of 16 judicial officers on the lower Bench were on Wednesday sworn in to bolster access to justice across the country.
Those sworn in are at the ranks of deputy registrar, assistant registrar, and chief magistrate.

The 16 judicial officers were among 42 who were appointed on May 12 by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). 
Only 16 of the 42 took the judicial oath because they were new while the rest, had been in the system and were just promoted.
They included four deputy registrars, six assistant registrars and six chief magistrates. 

According to the Chief Registrar, Ms Sarah Langa Siu, the appointment of the deputy registrars now brings the total number to 43; 15 for assistant registrars and 91 for the chief magistrates.

Despite these additions, there is a staffing gap of 69 chief magistrates, 37 deputy registrars and 25 assistant registrars.
While addressing the new judicial officers in Kampala, Principal Judge Flavian Zeija cautioned them against engaging in corruption schemes, saying the Judiciary has zero tolerance for the vice.

He said: “The bad habits that you may have had from where you are coming, they have no place in the Judiciary. I know you are coming from different agencies and some of you may have been in areas where there is corruption, may be you pick a coin from here and there, you come with those habits here, your days are numbered.” 
The administrative head of the High Court also asked the new judicial officers to live a life beyond reproach.

“When you choose to become a judicial officer, it’s no longer business as usual. There is a high level of conduct expected from a judicial officer both in big and small matters, both in public and private life. What you do in both private and public life has an impact on your perception and appreciation of your office,” Justice Zeija warned.,

Adding: “Some of you used to go to discos, some of you used to go to these small bars around and drink up to midnight, wee hours of the morning, this is now a different story. It’s a sacrifice you have to make, they now call you Your Worship. You don’t have to be worshiped in a bar, what if you are hit by a bottle.”

Ms Langa  said the judicial officers  will be  deployed next Monday.
She, however, said: “You are all going to be deployed within the confines of Uganda and not Congo. If it’s Buvuma, Kalangala, Karamoja, you have to go and serve,” she said.

Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera, who presided over the swearing-in function, said judicial officers can no longer hide behind judicial independence. 

“We have judicial officers who think they are independent and should not be questioned on what they do. You have a duty to serve the public, you have supervisors, and you have ….to account to them and the public. So when asked for accountability, nobody is interfering with your independence,” DCJ Buteera said.

He added: “Always remember that judicial authority is derived from the people who are our employers. ”