By Matthew Okello
A call to end corruption in the judicial system in the country dominated the speeches made during the launch of Tororo High court circuit on Tuesday, 21st February, 2023.
The launch was held at the Chief Magistrate’s Court where the high court will be hosted temporarily pending its construction where the advert for the construction appeared today in one of the dailies.
During the launch, both political leaders and locals who spoke during the ceremony called for an end to the currently prevailing rampant corruption in the judicial system that has stopped several Ugandans from accessing justice where only those with money take the day.
The state minister for defence, Jacob Markson Oboth who also doubles as the MP for West Budama Central called upon judicial officers who pick bribes from litigants to stop this devastating behaviour noting that the practice has made several Ugandans to lose interest in the judicial system.
He asked the officers to stop taking advantage of God’s people or else they would go to hell.
Meanwhile, Tororo Resident district commissioner, Nixon Owole revealed that one of the biggest barriers to the justice system in Tororo district was the bush lawyers who divert the minds of several litigants and end up extorting money from them. He said his office has worked towards weeding these people out of court.
He also asked responsible stakeholders to consider deploying a resident police surgeon in the region to accompany the high court because many people are still struggling to access the services of the surgeon which are equally expensive.
The Tororo High court judge, Henry Kawesi said that the coming of the high court to Bukedi South is going to help the community members easily access services for example the judge said that since September 2022, they have so far disposed off 62 cases that were dragging in Mbale and 14 of these have been settled.
He also noted that the rate of defilement stands at 37.1% for example 9954 cases of defilement were registered in the sub region in 2019 and out of this 300 perpetrators were HIV positive and to him, the court will help address some of the injustices in the sub region.
The Chief Registrar of Judiciary, Sarah Langa Siu asked the general public to only pay money in the bank pronounced by the judicial officers more so while issuing bail.
She revealed that the judiciary is currently in high gear of fighting corruption noting that justice is not for sale and there is no price to it.
She also noted that the judiciary in a move to bridge the staffing gap has now recruited up to 150 judges, 160 chief magistrates and 514 grade 1 magistrates and reduced case backlog from 50,000 to now 44,000 cases and this is all aimed at ensuring that the general access justice.
The principal Judge of the high court Flavian Zeija says that the coming of the high court is now going to put Tororo in a better position to bargain for a city status.
The principal judge also revealed that they are currently fighting absconding judicial officers and have put tough measures to fight this and to him, this will enable most of the cases not to lag in court for more than 60 days.