Uganda: Deputy CJ Roots for Recruitment of More Magistrates to Reduce Case Backlog

The Deputy Chief Justice Richard Butera has emphasized the need to recruit more magistrates at county and sub county levels as a way to reduce case backlog and speedy trial of new cases in courts of judicature.

Justice Butera was on Monday speaking to journalists after a one day meeting with the magistrates from the Kigezi region at the Kabale High court premises in Kabale Town where he also revealed plans of recruiting a chief magistrate in every district and a grade one magistrate at every county and sub county level.

"The increased annual budget for the judiciary from Shs190b to Shs330b will do a lot in recruiting judges and magistrates as one way of reducing case back log. The number of judges is expected to increase from 56 to 80 in the short run and 150 in years," Justice Butera said.

"The number of chief magistrates is expected to increase from 40 to 80 and later to every district in the long run. The number of grade one magistrates is expected to increase to the total number of sub counties that we have in Uganda. Once the challenge of man power is solved, the issue of case backlog would be solved," he further explained.

According to records available at Kabale High Court, 1,013 cases are pending hearing of which 562 are backlog cases as they have been in court for more than two years.

Justice Butera also revealed government plans of establishing court of appeal divisions in different districts like Mbarara, Fort Portal, Arua, Gulu, Soroti, Mbale, Jinja and Masaka with an objective of bringing services nearer to the people and for quick and timely judicial service delivery.

Commenting on the recent remarks by President Museveni on denying bail to capital offenders, Justice Butera said bail is a constitutional right that is granted by magistrates and judges after a proper assessment of the nature of the case.

"It's a suggestion to be discussed by stakeholders but for now bail is a constitutional right," he said.

Kabale High Court resident judge, Justice Moses Kazibwe Kawumi, said besides the challenge in manpower, the Covid-19 pandemic also contributed to case backlog, noting that the planned strategy of recruiting new magistrates in the country will come in handy.

"At Kabale High Court we have an acting deputy registrar who doubles as the chief magistrate for Kabale District besides having other cases to handle in Kisoro District. We also have a challenge of unstable electric power supply, thus the need to have a standby generator," Justice Kawumi said.

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