The Public Accounts Committee (Central Government) has called for more judicial reforms to ensure timely dispensation of justice.
The Committee in its report on the Auditor General’s report on the Justice, Law, and Order sector for the Financial Year 2021/2022, presented by Hon. Fredrick Angura (Tororo South County) noted that access to justice is still hampered by slow disposal of court cases.
“Although there has been a steep decline of case backlogs, the judicial system is still fraught with massive pendency of cases across all levels of the judiciary,” Angura said during the plenary sitting on during Thursday, 19 October 2023.
Statistics from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) show that the national average backlog of cases pending prosecution increased by 68,974 from 55,342 cases in the previous year to 124,316 in the current year.
Committee findings indicate that case backlog is most acute in the regional offices of Nakawa, Kampala, Mbale, and Mbarara which account for 44 percent of the backlog of cases. A court backlog is a case pending before the courts for an extended period more than the one prescribed by the rules and internal guidelines in Judiciary, which is currently at two years.
Jonam County Member of Parliament, Hon Emmanuel Ongiertho, noted that whereas the Judiciary is doing its best to clear case backlog, focus should be put on land-related cases whose disposal takes a long time, and this has resulted in fatal conflicts.
Amolatar District Woman Representative, Hon Agnes Apea, said access to justice remains a challenge, especially in hard-to-reach districts.
“For example, in Amolatar, a magistrate sits in office like once a week. Institutions need to be keen on the presence of judicial officers at work because our people are so frustrated with the judicial system,” Apea said.
Kibale County Member of Parliament, Hon Richard Oseku said justice in Uganda is very expensive to the extent that even court awards take a long time to be paid.
The delayed settlement of the court awards has been attributed to inadequate budget provision from the Ministry of Finance, with some individuals having to wait for more than five years to receive their court awards.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.