President Yoweri Museveni has cautioned judicial officers against corruption and making justice a preserve of the affluent.
In a speech read by Vice President Edward Ssekandi at the opening of the New Law Year at the High Court in Kampala, Museveni said courts should be eager to protect people’s land, which is their source of economic survival.
“The judiciary should embark on protection of production by protecting the land of the people; It shouldn’t be a judiciary of the affluent; I urge you to continue fighting delays in the judiciary,” he said on Friday 31 January 2020.
Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, outlined Parliament’s commitment to building a strong and viable judiciary, saying the Administration of Judiciary Bill will be prioritized in the coming days to strengthen the judiciary.
“I want to confirm that this matter [the Administration of the Judiciary Bill] has been on the order paper; it was my desire to have it done by February 2019, but government has been asking for more time to consult,” said Kadaga.
The Administration of Judiciary Bill seeks to comprehensively provide for the functioning, institutional operation and administrative independence of the Judiciary, as well as the retirement benefits of judicial officers. It elaborates and cements the independence of the Judiciary by
making it self-accounting and protects the administrative expenses, emoluments and retirement benefits of judicial officers.
“It is my intention to have it done; if we are going to wait for the new Minister [of Justice and Constitutional Affairs] to settle down, then we are going to delay; I urge the Attorney General to take it up,” she added.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, who was officiating at the ceremony for the last time as Chief Justice, said systems have been put in place to curb corruption, and also called on government to increasing staffing in the judiciary to end backlog.
“Zero tolerance to corruption is seriously enforced in this judiciary; I constituted a task force which investigated allegations of corruption and some judicial officers have been forwarded for disciplinary action,” said Katureebe.
Katureebe said under his leadership, issues of case backlog have been significantly addressed, with the number of convicts now outweighing that of those on remand.
The outgoing Chief Justice was awarded for his service, kicking off a succession battle at the apex court.
The Chief Justice is appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, and is the fourth most senior officer of state after the President, Vice President and Speaker.
Uganda Law Society President Simon Peter Kinobe warned advocates against working purely for financial reasons, saying the profession is designed to give back to society and not for lawyers’ aggrandizement.
“Legal practice should not be about money alone, it should be about giving back to society and to help those that are vulnerable,” said Kinobe.