With or without money, justice should be dispensed - Museveni

President Museveni (with hat) arrives for the official opening of the four-day annual judges’ conference in Kampala on January 30, 2023. PHOTOS/ISAAC KASAMANI

What you need to know:

  • The President says he has had experience of operating on limited resources over the last 50 years.

President Museveni has told judges that with or without money, they should administer justice to Ugandans.
According to the President, the judges should use the available resources to administer justice. He argued that for the past 50 years, he has been at the helm of leadership without enough money and he has succeeded.

“Should we say that a country without money will have no justice? Is that really what we are saying?” the President wondered.

“My answer is; when I was in the bush, in Luweero Triangle, we were having very serious justice without money. In Luweero, I was the chief justice, and president, I was combining both. We had justice but no money,” Mr Museveni added.

He was speaking yesterday at the official opening of the four-day annual judges’ conference in Kampala.
The President was responding to a request made by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo to support the Judiciary to deal with the case backlog.

The current budget of the Judiciary is Shs382b but their target is Shs800b.
“Your Excellency, I appeal to you to continue supporting the Judiciary so that we do not lose the gains we have registered regarding minimising case backlog at the Magistrate Grade One level. A total of 3,586 cases completed by the magistrates have been appealed and are pending before the High Court, which is already overwhelmed by the cases handled at first instance,” the Chief Justice said.

“We should recruit more judges so that we do not have an increase of backlog at the High Court resulting from appeals from the Magistrates Courts,” he added.

According to the Chief Justice, the average caseload per judge of the High Court now is 945 cases.
“We appeal for a caseload of 300 cases per judge, which is possible if more judges are recruited. As you have supported the Judiciary before, we will deliver timely justice to all our people once we have the numbers,” he said.

Justice Dollo also said the Judiciary is in the process of completing the compilation of the value of cases in the courts and that the preliminary report so far indicates trillions of shillings locked up in disputes.

The highest sum of money locked up is in the Commercial Court where we need a minimum of 20 judges to expeditiously dispose of cases,” he said.

The Chief Justice said the Judiciary is currently undergoing a transformation agenda geared towards enhancing access to justice services across Uganda.

To achieve this dream, he said they are going to concentrate on five key areas, which among others, include establishing more courts across the country in order to eliminate case backlog to bring justice services nearest to the people.

Others are; strengthening the Judicial Training Institute to offer up-to-date capacity building and refresher training to the judicial and non-judicial staff, reinforcing the Inspectorate of Courts and enhancing the use of ICT in case management and delivery of justice services.

Justice Minister Norbert Mao, in his speech read by Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka, told the President of how the Judiciary needs more clerks, process servers, secretaries among others to support judicial officers.
He also revealed that the Judiciary is working with the Justice ministry to amend the Judicature Act with the aim of increasing the number of Supreme Court justices from 11 to 21, those at the Court of Appeal from 15 to 56 and those at the High Court from 83 to 151.

Currently, the High Court has 70 judges, the Court of Appeal has 13 justices and the Supreme Court 10.
But Mr Museveni said the only way to resolve the issues of budgetary constraints is to have a detailed discussion with the Chief Justice, the Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister and the Vice President.

“I met CJ the other time and we agreed that we should have an inter branch meeting with the Speaker, Chief Justice, the other people such as the Prime Minister and Vice President so that we see how much we have to divide the entire body,” he said.