Katureebe Faults Judicial Officers on Case Backlog

1620 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
Records from the Fort Portal High Court Registrar show that there are 450 pending cases before the court.

The Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe has cautioned judicial officers against being lazy, saying it is responsible for the case backlog in courts.  He was speaking at a dialogue at Fort Portal High Court on Wednesday. Justice Bart Katureebe was particularly concerned about the pending cases before Fort Portal High Court.  

Records from the Fort Portal High Court Registrar show that there are 450 pending cases before the court. During the dialogue, some of the residents attributed the case backlog to late arrival and absenteeism by judicial officers. David Mugume, a resident of Hakibale Sub County told Justice Katureebe that his brother was charged with theft early last year, but up to date the case has never been heard.
Mugume said that his brother spends more than 5,000 Shillings on transport to and from the court each week, expecting his case to be heard in vain.  In his response, Justice Katureebe wondered why the court has many pending cases yet almost all the vacancies were filled. He said unnecessary delays to dispose of cases deny the aggrieved parties justice. 

He directed Felix Omala, the Fort Portal Chief Magistrate to reprimand judicial officers who abscond from duty and report late for work. Omala said although there is incompetence on the part of some judicial officers, he claimed that the case backlog is caused by lawyers who fail to show to represent their clients, which forces magistrates/ judges to adjourn cases.

Katureebe also cautioned court bailiffs against engaging in criminal acts while enforcing court orders. He explained that some court bailiffs connive with unscrupulous police personnel, politicians and business people to grab people's properties. The chief justice later held a closed door meetings with lawyers, court staffs and Kabarole district officials led by the LC V chairperson, Richard Rwabuhinga. 

Last year, the judiciary introduced the Plea Bargain System as one of the ways to expedite the dispensation of justice as it saves time and resources. 

Under Plea Bargain System, the accused compromises with the prosecution to plead guilty to a lesser charge for a lesser sentence.