Uganda: Journalists Accuse Judiciary of Misconduct

"The raging case backlog in court should be blamed on the misconduct of some judicial officers, making it hard for Ugandans to have justice," journalists have told the Judicial Service Commission.

During a media engagement meeting between members of the media fraternity in Bushenyi greater sub-region and Judicial Service Commission on Friday, the journalists said that misconduct among some judicial officers in courts has made it impossible for Ugandans to have justice.

Mr Abraham Muganzi, a reporter working with Vision Group in greater Bushenyi told the JSC that judicial officers' absence from duty stations causes unnecessary adjournments in courts, denying justice to people.

"When a judicial officer is out of station for one or two weeks without a clear reason, the cases that he or she was supposed to hear during that time are pushed forward and that results into delayed or denied justice," Mr Muganzi said.

"When civil servants are out of office for long without clear reason; that is indiscipline and due to this, people who don't get judicial services end up causing chaos in society because they have not gotten what had taken them to court," he added.

He called upon the JSC to ensure that its officers are held accountable and be made to work following a clocking system, which shows how someone didn't work so they can be tasked to explain and account why they did not.

According to Mr Prosper Twebaze, a presenter at Bushenyi based BFM radio, corruption has eaten up the judiciary.

"Corruption and connivance in the sector has denied many Ugandans a right to timely justice," he said.

Mr Twebaze also blamed the case backlog on the formality and bureaucracy in the judicial sector, where cases take long time to reach required stages in the legal process partly due to shortage of judicial staff in the country.

Journalists' comments coupled with complaints about their colleague working with MK Newslink Agency.

Journalist Mr Wilber Muhwezi Kasibante has spent more than a week in prison without getting bail due to absence of the Chief Magistrate.

He was arrested about two weeks ago on charges of defamation and criminal trespass.

Answering journalists' queries, Mr Samuel Mugisa, the deputy registrar Education and Public Affairs in the Judicial Service Commission asked journalists and other aggrieved people to report undisciplined officers to the JSC for handling.

Mr Mugisa blamed the case backlog effect in courts of law on shortage of judicial officers in the country.

"If you report more than 1000 cases and you have one judge, can he finish 1,000 cases?" he noted.

About the gaps, Mr Mugisa said that the mandate of the JSC is to do recruitment for only declared areas, which also becomes hard due to limited funds.

Ms Maria Thresa Nabulya, the JSC Communications Officer said that the engagement meeting was aimed at equipping the media with knowledge on how the JSC works since the media plays a big role of representing the common man.

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