Coming from a past of a broken and intimidated Judiciary, the climax perhaps being the murder of Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka on 22nd September 1972, the NRM government has not only strengthened the Judiciary but guaranteed its independence. Also, the dreaded roadblocks where people lost property and even lives to indisciplined security personnel were completely eliminated, so were the numerous cases of extra-judicial killings.
The other institutions charged with delivering justice like the Uganda Police Force, the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the Equal Opportunities Commission, continue to be supported to become more professional and effective by the day.
The NRM government has passed several laws and enacted policies aimed at creating a just and fair society, focused on enabling Ugandans live in harmony. Public trust in Justice, Law and Order (JLO) institutions has improved and now stands at 59%. The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) maintains an ‘A’ status in ranking.
The case backlog has reduced from 21% in 2017 to 18% in 2018/19 despite the 13% growth in case registration. Over 56,000 backlogged cases were disposed of. Growth in backlog has, therefore, been addressed, however, what is needed now is to enhance sector efforts to manage the existing case load. As a result of the increased case disposal, for the first-time convicts outnumber prisoners on remand. Automation of case management systems increased to 39.02% in 2019 from 12% in 2017.
The focus in this new term will include full implementation of theElectronic Court Case Management Information System (ECCMIS) that is digitizing all case files and processes from Grade One Magistrate courts to the Supreme Court. Also, the Computerised Prosecution Case Management System (PROCAMIS) shall be rolled out to an additional 20 stations.
Criminal cases of a commercial nature should be handled by commercial court as way of reducing cost of doing business by fast tracking commercial legal processes. We shall instil zero tolerance of corruption in the judicial system by introducing systems and periodic performance monitoring of judicial officers. Also, under the reform of business processes, the government will develop a sector-wide integration for information sharing starting with critical institutions such as NIRA and the frontline JLOS service institutions.
The NRM government strengthened the offices of the Auditor General and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions which had been departments under the ministries of Finance and Justice respectively. The two institutions were given autonomy and their heads, security of tenure—to enable them perform their functions effectively. They now report to Parliament and not the Executive as before. To buttress them, we created other institutions like the Financial Intelligence Authority, the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) and supporting agencies like the Leadership Code Tribunal to intensify the fight against corruption in government.
Corruption, however, remains a thorn in our flesh and I am determined to eradicate it completely. In December 2018, I launched the State House Anti-Corruption Unit which has a 24-hour rapid response line to receive and respond to corruption related complaints from the public. By November 2019, 60,000 complaints had been received. Of these 8,000 were concluded and 4,000 are still under investigation while 35,000 had been referred to line government departments. A total of 111 officials have been charged in court with 79 public officials interdicted.
Going forward, we shall make corruption a very risky venture. Agencies providing government services like passports, national IDs, driving permits, etc, will be given specific timelines in which to deliver a service. We are studying the corruption around government procurements and we shall seal all the gaps. Clauses in the law that call for confiscation of illicitly acquired wealth will be enforced and culprits jailed.