17 January 2013

Uganda: Judges Want to Meet President Over 'Low Pay'

Photo: This Day
Symbol of justice.

Judges have asked to meet president Yoweri Museveni over their low salaries. Judicial Service Commission boss Justice James Ogoola said the money paid to judges was little compared to the demanding tasks they do.

"The judicial service commission touched base with the Attorney General, the justice minister, the budget and legal affairs committees in parliament and the Chief Justice over the issue of salaries of judges," said Ogoola.

"However, what we discussed has not yet been implemented," he added. Ogoola made the remarks during the 15th annual judges' conference in Kampala recently.

The four-day conference, which started on Monday, is organised by the judicial studies institute.

It is aimed at helping members of the Judiciary reflect on their achievements and evaluate their work as they plan the way forward.

Ogoola said as a result of the low remuneration, there will come a situation where they will advertise for jobs, but no competent lawyer will want to take them up.

"Today, if a good law firm is to handle a good case, it will be talking about being paid in billions. How do you convince such a lawyer to take up a job where they will get a salary of only about sh5m?" he asked.

Ogoola regretted that the challenge will breed a situation where you have only mediocre judges, saying this will not only bring down the standards of the Judiciary, but also increase corruption in the country.

He, however, did not divulge details of how much the judges want to be paid.

Ogoola decried the increasing cases of indiscipline among judges.

"When we started work in February last year, there were about 250 cases of indiscipline, but many of them were from the lower courts. We have been able to bring them down to about 120," he said.

"Judges need to be exemplary. They can't sit on the bench to judge the public when they themselves have skeletons of indiscipline in their closets," Ogoola added.

Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki said as a result of indiscipline in some sectors of the Justice, Law and Order Sector, the public's opinion of the Judiciary was fading.

He regretted that this had made people take justice matters in their hands.

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