Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has called out President Museveni of failing to appoint the required number of judges of the High Court, Court of Appeal or Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court.
Speaking Monday at the opening of the 21st annual judges’ conference at Kampala Serena Hotel under the theme of integrity and accountability, Katureebe asked government to lift the recent ban it imposed on the Judicial Service Commission regarding the recruitment of new judges and magistrates.
Katureebe says his courts are short of manpower for effective and timely adjudication of cases. He explains that the Court of Appeal has only one active Justices out of the required fifteen, the High Court has only 50 justices despite a resolution passed by Parliament to increase the number to 82 and the lower courts still lack 56 Chief Magistrates.
Katureebe has made the request while making his address at this year’s three-day conference where President Museveni is the chief guest.
Katureebe has further explained that inadequate numbers of justices locks out the country’s economic growth in unresolved commercial and land cases.
The Chief Justice has however, reported to the President that the Judiciary still has challenges in the adjudication of land cases. He mentioned some of them to include, delaying cases involving the poor, mishandling of cases and lack of resources for locus visits. He has therefore asked the president to facilitate the processes of formulating laws regarding land evictions.
President Museveni while opening the conference challenged the judges to understand the historical mission of the state and deliberately support that mission. He also addressed issues of remuneration, staffing, among others. He used the occasion to launch key new innovations the Judiciary is undertaking to improve delivery of justice, including a toll free feedback line, an e-payment platform and a performance appraisal tool for judicial officers.
Lawmakers say because of this recruitment failure by the President, the Judiciary, which is the third arm of state; can’t effectively perform its twin constitutional roles of checking the executive arm to ensure the rule of law and also administer justice.
Lack of quorum to hear constitutional cases, judges being overloaded with work, delay in hearing cases, long period of remand are some of the concerns that the concerned Ugandans list arising from failure by the President to appoint the required number of judges.