Low capacity hampering justice, says Mwondha

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The Deputy Chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission, Justice Faith Mwondha has said that delivery of justice in Uganda is hampered by low capacity of the judicial system.

Presentation a petition to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga on Wednesday, 30 September 2020, Mwondha said that the Commission has very few judges and judicial officers which affects work.

“The lower bench inclusive of magistrates is very thin yet it executes most of the work. We have a major deficiency in human resource and this is largely attributed to the inability to recruit. The last restructure of human resource took place in 2016,” she said.

Justice Mwondha added that the Commission believes the dispensation of justice is not taken seriously as it ought to be by the government.

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“If they did, we would not have these issues. We have glaring issues of access to justice, a complaint constantly raised by the population,” she added.

She said that the Commission constantly finds itself in situations where one Magistrate covers six districts yet they should ideally be one per county.

Norah Matovu, a Commissioner said that JSC keeps holding recruitment exercises for one recruitment yet it should be taking on more people.

“We find ourselves sitting to interview one person which is more or less a waste of time and money,” Matovu said.

Matovu said that a considerable number of staff have stagnated at the level of Grade 1 Magistrates for 18 to 20 years and even gone on to absurdly retire in that position.

The Acting Secretary of the JSC, Ronald Ssekajja said that there is deficit of 26 High Court judges and 19 deputy registrars.

He added that only eight positions of assistant registrars have been filled, 43 positions filled out of the 100 for Chief Magistrates and none for Senior Principal Magistrates among others.

“There is a total of 420 unfulfilled positions for judicial Officer according to the structures that are approved by the Public Service as of 2016,” he said.

The Speaker said that she has written to the President about the 15 unfulfilled positions in the Court of Appeal.

“The country has unrealistically big high court circuits that are poorly manned,” Kadaga said.

Kadaga revealed that the President has been non-committal prompting her to work with the Parliamentary committees on Legal and Budget to avail resources for the recruitment of more judicial officers.

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