What you need to know:
- Some of the cases on appeal date as far as 2013.
- Aggravated robbery (5), aggravated defilement (12) and murder (23).
Aggravated defilement, aggravated robbery and murder account for the biggest percentage of cases that are currently being handled by the Court of Appeal in Arua District.
The appellate court sessions which kicked of this morning at Arua High Court premises will take one week with 40 hearings so far allocated to three judges led by Justice Cheborion Barishaki.
While visiting Arua Main Prisons Monday morning, Justice Cheborion was told by some of the inmates that their pursuit for justice had been frustrated by delays for several years.
In response, Justice Cheborion, said the court is still challenged by case backlog given that there are many convicts who appealed against their sentences yet the available judges to hear their petitions are relatively few.
“So, these sessions we are opening today will help us reduce such backlogs. People deserve justice to be dispensed faster and we are working on this,” he said.
Justice Cheborion added: “It is a loss to the nation to keep people for long in prisons. Once someone is out of the Prison, they become productive and we can only ensure this happens through speedy trials.”
Other judges assigned to handle the 40 cases on appeal include Justice Monica Mugyenyi and Justice Christopher Gasirabake.
According to the cause list issued by the Court of Appeal deputy registrar, Ms Lillian Bucyana, the offences include aggravated robbery (5), aggravated defilement (12) and murder (23).
Some of the cases on appeal date as far as 2013. The officer in charge of Arua Main Prison, Mr Leni Ndori, said overcrowding in the prisons puts pressure on the available but scarce resources.
“The constant delays at High Court and Court of Appeal remains a challenge and tests the patience of the inmates who are supposed to receive justice timely,” he said.
The Resident Judge, Issa Sserunkuma, said they have secured a three-acre piece of land donated by Ayivu residents for the constriction of Court of Appeal structures.
This, he said, was a milestone in ensuring that once constructed, it would make Appeal cases heard faster.
“We have 891 cases of all nature pending for hearing. Out of these, 395 of the cases are backlogs and we are fighting to see that these are disposed of because from last month, we started dedicated weeks for the cases,” Justice Issa said.
This is the second criminal session to be held by the appellate court since the beginning of this year.