President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has asked Judicial officers to provide equitable justice to all manner of people without fear or favour if they are to ably transform the economy.
According to Museveni, if the Judiciary is to grow stronger , the Judicial officers must provide justice to all manner of people bearing in mind the people’s traditional values a, beliefs and aspirations.
Museveni’s remarks were made on Monday evening at the opening ceremony of the four-day 25th Annual Judges Conference in Kampala which is being held under the theme “A People Centered Approach to Justice”. This was in a speech read on his behalf by the Vice President Jessica Alupo in the conference which brings together all the Judges of the High Court, Court of Appeal/Constitutional Court and those from the Supreme Court.
In his remarks, Museveni challenged the Judges to always remember while executing their duties that judicial power is derived from the people of Uganda and as such, they expect good treatment when they come to courts of law, timely dispensation of justice without any delay, simple court processes without many technicalities, sobriety and propriety by the judicial officers.
According to Museveni, the Judicial officers should also be able to adequately compensate the victims of wrongs adding that the government will continue respecting court orders. He also encouraged Judicial officers to always involve the people in planning processes saying formulation of laws and government policies is done with the involvement of the people, which he likened to the NRM ideology.
The head of state has also informed the Judges of his knowledge about the need for more clerks, Registrars and additional funds.
But on this, Museveni said the Judiciary needs to know that no government department can grow without the support of the others, and indicated that they need to appreciate the Mineral Exploitation and Exploration Sector, the Security and Agriculture sectors and give them the attention they deserve because the government ‘s resource envelope is strategically shared to cater for many issues.
Speaking at the same event, the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Norbert Mao has told the Judicial officers that the excuses of not being effective at work by now should be reducing because the Parliament has equipped them with all additional tools in terms of human and financial resources.
He said they should be able to defend the interests of the people enshrined in the constitution and emphasized that no matter how bad one is, he or she is entitled to a speedy and fair trial.
Mao said that Parliament put a law saying Cabinet can start disciplinary proceedings against a Judge and refer them to the Judicial Service Commission for appropriate action but he doesn’t want that to happen.
According to Mao, it would be wrong to intimidate or remove a Judge in office to achieve a political end.
He also stated that it is wrong for the public to attack or criticize the Judges over their decisions without facts and described it as irresponsible, unfair and insupportable. He encouraged the officers to continue doing their work independently regardless of the criticisms.
Mao also wondered how private letters end up being leaked on social media platforms giving a recent example of the President’s letter to the Chief Justice regarding management and handling of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council case with businessman Justus Kyabahwa.
On his part, the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo emphasised that the Judiciary is still on course to continue spreading more courts in the country to make sure that a justice seeker especially an ordinary person doesn’t have to trek longer distances in order to access court.
He requested government to add the Judiciary more funds to make it 800 billion shillings from the current 382 billion shillings such that work can be handled expeditiously with proper resources both financial and human.
The Chairperson of the Organizing Committee of the Conference Supreme Court Justice Mike Chibita said whether the matter is civil or criminal, a people centered approach should be on their mind.
He said during the conference, they will actively interrogate this in order to bring more accountability, hence improving coordination, access to justice and the image of the Judiciary. The Speaker of Parliament Anita Annet Among also attended the opening ceremony.