The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Pay Judges More, Keep Them Longer

editorial

Photo: This Day
Symbol of justice.

The Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki, used the just-ended judges' conference to repeat what he has said before, that judicial officers are underpaid.

We couldn't agree more, and we've said as much before. Why the government is taking so long to rectify this anomaly, if not injustice, remains a mystery. With rising crime and rampant corruption, among other evils, Uganda can't afford to neglect her judicial officers.

Better pay is likely to get you better motivation and also higher propensity to resist corruption tendencies. It also means the bench can attract the best lawyers from the more lucrative private legal practice.

The chief justice also lamented the delay to appoint judges to fill vacancies on the bench. It is disappointing that the appointing authority has dragged his feet on this issue, thus exacerbating the acute backlog problem. For instance, the Supreme court is right now unable to hear constitutional appeals because it lacks full Coram.

The irony is that while the government is unable to hire new judges, it continues to let several experienced and competent judges to retire every year. It is, indeed, baffling that the High court in particular has lost several good judges in the last couple of years because they clocked 65 years, yet many positions remain vacant.

According to our constitution, High court judges retire at 65 years while their Court of Appeal and Supreme court counterparts retire at 70.

Why should we let our judges go home when they are still able to perform and yet struggle to find able replacements?

A healthy 65 or 70-year-old judge would be in position to serve for another five or 10 years if the law was changed to permit that. Frankly, we don't see any reason why that law can't change. As a result of this law, Uganda's loss is always likely to be other countries' gain.

For instance, the widely respected Justice John Bosco Katutsi, who retired last year, is now dispensing judicial duties in West Africa. Justice Odoki himself is due to retire later this year and will probably find himself an expatriate job too.

It's high time the government found some more money for the judges and also revisited the law on their retirement.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2013 The Observer. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

InFocus

Ugandan Judges Want Better Pay

Symbol of justice.

Judges have asked to meet with the president to discuss their salaries, saying the money paid to them is little compared to the demanding tasks they do. Read more »