We need more State prosecutors, says DPP

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Justice Jane Frances Abodo (left), and the acting Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr Muruli Mukasa, during the National Symposium of Prosecutors 2022 in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO/ISAAC KASAMANI

What you need to know:

  • Justice Abodo says prosecutors face a number of challenges including poor pay and understaffing.

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Justice Jane Frances Abodo, has decried the unfavourable  working conditions of State prosecutors in the country.

Justice Abodo made the remark during the opening of the National Symposium of Prosecutors 2022 in Kampala yesterday.

She said the challenges include poor pay, lack of personal security and safety given the nature of sensitive cases they handle, stagnation at same rank for decades, and under-staffing.

“Some of the prosecutors haven’t been promoted for the last 23, 14 and 10 years respectively. So everyone in the office of the DPP have not been promoted for the last years,” the DPP said.

She added: “Some of them earn Shs1m before tax. State attorneys earn Shs2.7m before tax and yet our colleagues, the Grade One Magistrates in the Judiciary, whom we went to the same law school, are earning Shs5.6m untaxed. So it is a painful experience for state attorneys.”

Justice Abodo revealed that they only have 323 field station prosecutors in 101 offices countrywide.
“Also we are not present in 45 districts, hence increase in demand.  There is a work load of 200,000 case files filed every year with each prosecutor handling about 650 files, which is too much in relation to the accepted world standard,” she said. 

She gave an example of Mbarara Court where she said, there are only four prosecutors against eight judicial officers.

“They work under very hard conditions even those in Kampala here. The other day, I went to Luzira court and the prosecutor was sitting in a very small office without power, and you had to be directed in order to reach there,” Justice Abodo said.

The acting Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr Muruli Mukasa, who officially opened the symposium, said government has started rationalisation of salaries in government agencies in a bid to narrow the disparity gaps.

 “My Lord has raised a number of concerns which have been raised for many years. But we have started with the Judiciary to get them basic requirements and they are the next,” Mr Muruli said.

The week-long symposium will climax today with the 5th Joan Kagezi memorial lecture with President Museveni expected to grace the ceremony.

The lecture is in honour of the former Senior Principal State Attorney who was shot dead on March 30, 2015 in Najjeera, a suburb in Kira Town Council, Wakiso District, by unknown assailants riding on a boda boda, as she returned home from work.

During the opening of the New Law Year in February, President Museveni said he had come to know of the issues affecting prosecutors and emphasised he would address the issues affecting them.

Background
In June2017, prosecutors through their umbrella Association, Uganda Association of Prosecutors, went on a two-months industrial action, that paralysed court business after which government through a commitment letter by the then Justice minister, Mr Kahinda Otafiire, undertook to address the issues that had been raised and taken the prosecutors to strike. 

However, most of the issues raised have not been addressed.

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