Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo has this afternoon been approved by parliaments appointments committee as new Deputy Chief Justice, URN has learnt. The committee chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah also approved Justices Paul Mugamba and Richard Buteera who were appointed by President Yoweri Museveni to the Supreme Court bench. Owiny-Dollo replaces Justice Steven Kavuma while Buteera and Mugamba replace Justices Jotham Tumwesigye and Augustine Nshimye, respectively, who have clocked the retirement age.
The committee chaired by Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah also approved Justices Paul Mugamba and Richard Buteera who were appointed by President Yoweri Museveni to the Supreme Court bench. The two replace Justices Jotham Tumwesigye and Augustine Nshimye who have clocked the retirement age.
With the approval of parliament, Justice Owiny-Dollo is now set to replace Justice Steven Kavuma who retires having served in the position for two years.
While before the appointments committee, sources told URN that the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah first notified the Justices about a written request by the Uganda Law Society (ULC) to have their vetting open to the public.
The source however revealed that the Deputy Speaker told the Justices that this would not happen since the parliament rules of procedure provide for a closed session of vetting public officials. According to Rule 153(2) of the House Rules of Procedure, the proceedings of the appointments committee shall be closed.
Sources also revealed that the three Justices were tasked by members of parliament on mainly corruption within the Judiciary and the case backlog.
URN learnt that the Justices told the committee that the fight against corruption in particular needs the concerted effort of the public, judiciary, executive and parliament. On the issue of the case backlog, the Justices blamed the problem on the few judges, appealing to the appointing authority to recruit more judges to address the issue.
They, however, indicated to the committee that they would first clear their cases before them currently in the Court of Appeal before going to the Supreme Court.
A report released by Chief Justice Bart Katureebe in January last year indicated a staggering number of 114,512 cases still lying unresolved in the Ugandan courts. The findings were from a National File Census which was conducted across all courts in the country in a bid to establish the number of pending cases in the justice system.
The case census report shows that the Supreme Court has 97 pending cases; the Court of Appeal has 5,844 while the High Court has 35,548 with the lower magistrates' courts having 68,115 files undisposed of.
Speaking to journalists at parliament, Justice Owiny-Dollo said that some solutions to the problem of case backlog are beyond the judiciary.
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In May last year, Justice Owiny-Dollo convicted seven men behind the July 11, 2010 terror attacks in Kampala that claimed the lives of 74 people.
The double bombing targeted two venues the Ethiopian Restaurant and Kyadondo Rugby Club as revelers watched the World Cup Final match between Spain and the Netherlands.
Five of the convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment while two received 50 years in jail each. Thirteen others were acquitted.
It was the calm demeanour with which Justice Owiny-Dollo handled the highly sensitive case that endeared him to many. The men could have faced the death penalty, the maximum for terrorism, but Owiny-Dollo said he did not believe it would act as a deterrent.