For the last three weeks, it has been business unusual at most courts following the strike by prosecutors from the Directorate of Public Prosecution.
The most affected courts are the Magistrates’courts which largely conduct criminal hearings.
At Makindye Chief Magistrates Court, more than 1,000 cases have been adjourned with many litigants wondering when they will get their matters handled.
The Judiciary has in turn issued guidelines to its judicial officers on case management as the strike continues.
The Principal Judge, who issued the guidelines, says the courts will continue to hear criminal matters prosecuted by other state agencies such as the Inspectorate of Government and Uganda Revenue Authority.
He further stated, “…For our part, the courts should continue mentioning cases which are at the stage of bail, remand,or hearing as the situation warrants as dismissing cases in the absence of prosecution would in the instant circumstances amount to punishing the innocent victims of wrongs who have no control over the prosecutors industrial action.”
The guidelines that were copied to the Hon. Chief Justice, the Hon. Deputy Chief Justice, head of the Criminal Division, heads of High Court Circuits, The Director of Public Prosecution and Chief Registrar also call for judicial discretion.
“Accordingly, the absence of Prosecutors’ calls for heightened exercise of judicial discretion, that is,the exercise of judgment by a judicial officer based on what is fair under the circumstances and guided by the rules and principles of law.”
The Prosecutors, strike is premised on poor remuneration and they have proposed that the lowest paid attorney be given Shs9m while the DPP should get Shs 40m.