Judges end strike as prisons cry out

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Ugandan judges

Judicial officers have Wednesday suspended their strike following a promise by government to provide them with office equipment, transport and security so that they can resume work.

This was announced by Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Kahinda Otafiire, who said, however, that the salary raise will have to delay until they have completed the policy designed by the Public Service later in the year.

He requested them to return to work immediately. Following this request, the judicial officers met today at High Court in Kampala in the presence of the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, Deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo and Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwiine.

Their umbrella body Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA) President, Godfrey Kaweesa, said the members unanimously voted to end the strike with the hope that government will commit to its promises.

Government has up to December 11, 2017 to offer each magistrate a double cabin vehicle, security guard, improving their housing facilities, harmonization their salary structure, medical insurance and providing them with office equipment.

The judicial officers are pushing for the salary of the Chief Justice to be increased from Shs20m to Shs55m and that of the deputy Chief Justice from Shs18m to Shs53m.

They are also suggesting an increment for the salary of the principal judge from the current Shs10m S to Shs50m.

They say the lowest paid magistrate should earn at least Shs13m per month, be given medical insurance, housing and fuel allowance.

Prisons cry out

Uganda Prisons Public Relations Officer, Frank Baine, says they are now stuck with suspects following the judicial officers’ strike.

Uganda Prisons PRO Frank Baine

According to Baine, at least 600-700 inmates come in everyday from court. Usually court discharges about 500 people every day.

But for one week, nothing has happened, Baine noted, adding that they never received a formal writing indicating that judges were not working.

“We have 55,000 inmates, we have not been receiving more. Our capacity is 20,000 people,” he said.

He added: “Our challenge will be getting more people who are still at police. We hope we shall go back to normal operation soon.”

Meanwhile, Uganda Radio Network [URN] reports that police cells in greater Masaka region are overwhelmed by the number of inmates as the ongoing strike by judicial officers bites hard.

As a result of the strike, several litigants and suspects on remand who go to Masaka High Court to have their cases heard are turned away ever since the strike started.

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