Government To Establish Environmental Courts

1470 Views Hoima, Uganda
Government is set to create special courts to handle environmental cases in a bid to boost the fight against the growing environmental degradation.

Flavia Munaaba, the State Minister for Environment says the process has begun with training of judicial officers and holding of necessary consultations.

Although she does not reveal when these special courts will be in place, Munaaba says having a specialised judicial system on environmental matters will help in the timely delivery of justice and bring an end to rampant cases of environmental degradation.

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Minister Munaaba says despite the country having a robust legal system, enforcement of environmental laws remains a challenge. She says having specialized courts will help remedy the slow prosecution process of offenders.

Munaaba was addressing the media shortly after a training workshop for legal officers on enforcement of environmental laws in Hoima town on Friday.

Forestry and wetland encroachment are the leading contributors to environmental degradation. Several forest reserves have been encroached on and degraded.

According to NEMA's State of Environment Report for Uganda, 2010, Uganda's forest cover declined from 4.9million hectares in 1990 to 3.5million hectares in 2010.

Less than five years ago, government established a specialized Environmental Police Protection Unit (EPPU) to boost enforcement. Officials say that now challenges remain with handling of environmental cases.

Joseph Kwesiga, the National Forestry Authority Legal Officer notes that delayed trial of environmental cases has hampered effective protection of the environment .

Government's move to create special environmental court follows a call from the civil society for government to have a specialized judicial system to effectively handle environmental cases.

Greenwatch Uganda, an environmental rights advocacy Non-Government Organization says having a special judicial system for environmental cases is a move in the right direction.

Irene Ssekyana, the Greenwatch Uganda National Coordinator says having environmental courts will result to a dedicated and competent judicial officers ably handling environmental related cases.

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