|Principal Judge, His Lordship Yorokam Bamwine(in front of Police) freely interacting wih others|
UNICEF and Justice for Children today July 28 2016 have brought Ugandan Courts at different levels and other judicial institutions closer to a local person in Kasese District to give accountability of their work to the citizens.
|Court Users facing court and judicial institutions, out of their offices|
The Uganda principal Judge, His lordship Yorokam Bamwine was the chief guest and among other participants and guests were;
- Religious leaders under the umbrella of inter-religious council (IRC) of Uganda represented by South Rwenzori Anglican Bishop, Kasese quadhi and IRC Chairperson in Kasese.
- Kasese District Local government political and civic leaders that included; LCV C/Person, Chief administrative officer, Sub county chairpersons, Probation and welfare officer, Community Development officers from different sub counties and sub county chiefs
- Kasese Magistrate court staff, Fort portal high court staff represented by Resident judge.
- Resident state attorney
- Regional police commander (Rwenzori East Division), District Police Commanders; Kasese, Bwera and Hiima.
- Uganda Peoples Defense forces
- Uganda Prisons-Kasese District.
- Advocates, Court bailiffs, Paralegal service, legal aid project.
- Other Civil society organizations that among others included; Rwenzori consortium for civic competence(RWECO) partner organizations represented by Good Hope Foundation for Rural Development(GHFRD), and Reach the Youth, Caritas Kasese, RAC and ACODEV.
- And the entire public (court users) that included women, men, elderly, PWDs and children from different corners of Kasese District. Over one thousand (1000) people attended and participated in the event.
|Kasese District Deputy RDC at a stall|
The day involved speeches from different guests and stall inspection by the chief guest where a lot of information about how different legal procedures in the District are conducted, were shared. Questions were being raised and answered immediately. Among other information shared at stalls included; Application for letters of administration, writing a Will, Land transactions and matrimony property, court of judicature-small claim procedure(case flow), juvenile case handling, mediation, case filing, traffic laws, and prison life.
The event was entirely about hearing from community members about administration of Justice in Kasese District.
|Local court users at the stalls, where they asked several questions.|
KEY ISSUES RAISED BY COMMUNITY PEOPLE (Court Users) AND THEIR LEADERS
- Most people arrested after elections are not being given justice,
- Kasese needs more magistrates to timely serve the big population of between 800,000 to 1,000,000 people. The District only has four Magistrates,
- People are still being kept at police stations for more than 48 hours, contrary to the law,
- Corruption in judiciary is still being witnessed,
- Law breakage by police in the District is increasing, witnessed by killings by gun shooting of innocent citizens,
- Irregularities in handling land cases in Kasese are causing insecurity, Conflicts and human rights violations,
- Execution of court judgments is still a problem in Kasese especially concerning land cases like Rwehingo land, Nkoko in kitswamba,
- Resident District Commissioner’s(RDC) office peddling in court’s work especially failing execution of judgments concerning land,
- Some local council one chairperson also aid land grabbing,
- Principle of confidentiality is not adhered to by most police officers especially in executing juvenile cases and cases that involve PLHA.
|Principal judge and Kasese Grade 1 Magistrate, asking questions at a stall|
KEY RESPONSES BY PRINCIPAL JUDGE
- People’s happiness is Judiciary responsibility. According to Article 126 of Uganda’s constitution, judicial power shall be derived from the people.
- Case backlog is still a big challenge in Uganda. ”The recently conducted case file census revealed that close to 1000 cases have been in court for over 10 years, un settled” principal judge was quoted. This undermines the right to be heard.
- Some lawyers intentionally delay cases by ill advising their clients so that they may continue earning money from them. People were advised to utilize an opportunity of free legal services like Uganda Christian lawyers’ fraternity.
- Court bail is free. If a fee is decided on to be paid, it should be receipted and claimed back after the case.
- The principal Judge announced to the public that he has agreed with the Chief Magistrate of Kasese to clear all pending cases in a shortest period and that he will always make follow-ups on the same.
- Case files do not get lost but intentionally miss-placed by court clerks after bribery. He promised to pin clerks on similar cases.
- To protect children, the Judge announced that with effect from June 2nd 2016, guardianship orders have been abolished. Incase of guardianship, laws must be strictly followed. This is intended to curb child trafficking.
- In case of any court judgment, a person has a right to go to trial court to execute a judgment in case he is blocked from accessing his/her property.
- Local council one chairpersons have no judicial powers but have administrative powers, they can only do mediation and refer for judgment to court. For this reason, they are paid their annual administrative allowances.
- All court rulings are superior than RDCs’ authority to review .RDCs can only execute a court ruling, but not revoking it. All interferences by RDCs into land issues already made judgment on by courts of law are illegal.
|Principal Judge at Trafiic police stall|
All in all, the public appreciated the interface meeting with court and other judicial institutions staff and a lot was learnt that has opened people’s minds in as far as human rights violations prevention and conflicts management is concerned. All the Judicial and other Court speakers especially the Chief Guest encourage and emphasized mediation as a sustainable means of case handling, conflict prevention and management.
He promised to cause an urgent training for religious leaders from Kasese District in Mediation since they willingly receive many clients. And encouraged Court and other judicial institutions to work with local CSOs since they are always with, and too close to the local person.
|Local Court user raising partinent local issue about legal procedures in the District|