Government is considering incorporating the informal justice system into the common law to decrease delayed justice in courts of law. Focus is being placed on traditional leaders who, before the introduction of the common law by colonialists, had informal justice systems in place to resolve communal disputes.
Focus is being placed on traditional leaders who, before the introduction of the common law by colonialists, had informal justice systems in place to resolve communal disputes.
The Justice, Law and Order Sector—JLOS in a meeting with stakeholders this week sought views from traditional leaders on how the two institutions can relate so as to reduce delays in dispensing justice that is rampant in the courts.
Among the institutions present were the Acholi, Lango, Masaba cultural institutions, and Buganda that was represented by its Attorney General Apollo Makubuya.
Makubuya says in Buganda the dispute resolution mechanisms were involved at family, clan and village levels. He faults the formal justice system on differences such as language, access to the justice system and its processes which he says are adversarial in nature.
Emphasis of traditional institutions was based on restitution, reconciliation and a win- win situation and they were based on one’s custom and practices. However, Makubuya says the English system is premised on principle doctrines and philosophies which are alien to the common man.
//Cue in: When they went away…”
Cue out:…would not understand.”//
He says the problem that exists today is that some government polices and laws need to be reviewed if customary institutions are to be strengthened.
//Cue in: Government needs to be…”
Cue out:.. for these practices.”//
According to the Judiciary, 75% of cases before court are land related.
The Masaba cultural institution minister Henry Magomu says the incorporation can help handle cases such as land disputes since most of the land is owned at clan level. These involve dividing land amongst the different people such as widows who in Bugisu have no right to take over land owned by their husbands.
Toro and Bunyoro Kingdoms were not invited for the meeting. However, Bunyoro Prime Minister Father Bonny Kyaligonza says they are not bothered by government’s move to ignore them for such pertinent decision making meetings and describes it as unfair. Bunyoro currently chairs the Uganda Kings and Cultural Leaders Forum.
Father Kyaligonza notes that currently they are working with Makerere and Gulu Universities to implement the traditional justice mechanisms. The sessions focus on gender based violence, chronic theft and how children born out of wedlock can fight for their entitlements.
Some of the resolutions at the concluded JLOS forum included enhancement of public awareness and knowledge of their rights, obligations and responsibilities.
Others are exploring cost effective alternative means of increasing access to justice, instituting mechanisms for effective implementation of laws and enhancing the role of civil society in justice delivery systems among others.