The newly appointed Director of Public Prosecutions, Lady Justice Jane Frances Abodo has said she will make her time in office count.
Speaking as she assumed her new office on Wednesday, Abodo applauded President Museveni for appointing her as a High Court judge in 2018 but also appointing her as the new DPP in a space of two years
“This is an historic moment for me, a historic moment for the people of Karamoja, an historic moment for prosecutors, as well as an historic moment for the women of Uganda. This is a moment of ‘firsts” for the all the above with regard to this office,” Abodo said.
“Thank you all for the confidence you have in me to deliver on this assignment. The least I can do is to reciprocate your confidence in me by serving our country with utmost dedication, integrity and humility.”
Applauding her predecessor, Justice Mike Chibita, Lady Justice Jane Abodo said she will build on his foundation adding that together with her staff they will ensure their time as the foot soldiers of justice and lawyers of the people count.
She said she would focus on solving the understaffing problem that the directorate faces, a thing she said has been detrimental to disposal of cases throughout the country.
“We are thin on the ground, sparsely deployed, under-resourced and less equipped with tools and facilities to do our work optimally well. We have over 45,000 police officers across the country, 82 magisterial areas, 15 circuits, over 300 courts. Unfortunately; the number of prosecutors in the country is only 335. Clearly, the few prosecutors are working under difficult conditions,” she said.
She said she will continue with the program of recruiting Chief State Attorneys after the end of the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to the new DPP, there will also be a focus on solving the problem of case backlog as part of the internal re-organisation and redeployment strategy in the short term.
With the increased penetration of the internet in various parts of the country, cyber-crimes are on the rise and according to Lady Justice Abodo, this will be one of the key areas that the focus will be on while serving as the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“I am also proposing that it is high time we get started on developing internal capacity to prosecute these complex crimes. Crimes have not changed. It is the means used to commit these illegal acts that have changed. Criminals today use information and communication technology tools and platforms,” she said.
“We therefore need to start nurturing internal capacity; a specialized skills set among interested or trained prosecutors to deal with offences ranging from illegal cyber payments, illegal electronic transfer or acquisition of funds, terrorist financing, money laundering among others.”
She noted that she will push for the prosecutors’ academy to impart more skills within prosecutors that she said are greatly lacking.
High level crimes
According to the new DPP, high level crimes including murders, corruption, defilement, rape and abuse of office whose dynamics are changing day by day will be a key focus during her time.
Lady Justice Jane Frances Abodo said because of their changing dynamics, there is need to identify and priotise the eradication or minimization of these crimes with the help of the members of the public and other stakeholders.
“We need to be seen to be transparent, accountable and champions of justice in all our acts. We must demonstrate that we are achieving the goals that society has set for us through legislation,” she noted.
Lady Justice Jane Frances Abodo was early this month appointed as the new Director of Public Prosecutions by President Museveni to replace Justice Mike Chibita who was last year appointed to the Supreme Court leaving the position of the Director of Public Prosecutions vacant.