Judiciary Urged to Increase Victim Participation in Plea Bargain

1762 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
The plea bargaining system allows an accused person to plead guilty to an offense in exchange for a lesser sentence and enables an accused person to negotiate for a lesser sentence. The procedure can be initiated at any stage of a case before the sentence is passed.

The Judiciary has been urged to increase the involvement of victims in Plea Bargain, a judicial arrangement that seeks to reduce case backlog and decongest prisons in Uganda.

The call is made by Lydia Namuli Lubega, a lawyer, who became a user and dependent of plea bargaining, while in search for justice for her sister who was killed by her ex-boyfriend three years ago.

The plea bargaining system allows an accused person to plead guilty to an offense in exchange for a lesser sentence and enables an accused person to negotiate for a lesser sentence. The procedure can be initiated at any stage of a case before the sentence is passed.

Namuli, an advocate of the High Court says that in her case, justice was served when they secured a 25 year jail sentence for the culprit while avoiding the ugliness of a trial. She however says that while the process was swift, rules were discarded, sentencing guidelines were not dully followed and there was no dialogue as anticipated.

She adds that a lot still needs to be done to make plea bargaining even work better.
 
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Namuli believes that plea bargaining needs to be better regulated and procedures followed to ensure that the interests of all parties are represented and considered as pleas are being made.
 
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Andrew Khaukha, a Technical Advisor to the Judiciary says that plea bargaining is already addressing some of the pressing challenges in the judicial system that include case backlogs, high costs and delays.

He says that plea bargaining,  which has been introduced at all High Court Circuits around the country,  has been used to clear more than 7,000 cases since its inception in 2014 and saved the state a total sum of 1.7 billion Shillings that would otherwise have been spent on trials.

Khaukha says State Attorneys from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions are currently preparing 500 plea bargaining cases that will hopefully be completed by mid-April.
 
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Mentioned: judiciary