President Museveni has turned down the request by the Chief Justice for government to increase the judiciary budget to enable recruitment of more judges among other items needed for dispensation of justice.
“We have revived the economy but we need to agree on the issue of prioritization. What if we don’t have enough money yet to do this or that? What do you do? We should have a meeting so that we see how much we have and what we can do,” Museveni said during the opening of the judges’ conference at Mestil Hotel in Kampala on Monday afternoon.
The president gave an example of the human body that he said has different part with each being in need of blood to perform well.
“All parts of the body are used. They all need blood but what if the blood is not enough? What do we do? It is the same situation here. We have got this scarce blood, what do we do? Cant a country without enough money have justice?”
“Our position is that we can’t be defeated by anything, with or without money. For us we believe we can have justice even when we don’t have enough money. It is just a question of planning.”
The president’s remarks stemmed from a request by the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo for more funding to ensure the judiciary undertakes items aimed at ensuring dispensation of justice.
“We shall also further work on lobbying for more funding to enable us recruit and establish more court houses and justice centers up to constituency level across the country; including establishing Chief Magistrates Courts at each district level, magistrates grade one courts at each constituency level, and more high courts circuits,” Dollo said.
“We shall work on expanding the structure and establishment of non-judicial staff and recruit more justices to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Under the new Judiciary Structure, we have planned to enhance the numbers of judicial and non-judicial staff commensurate with our vision and strategic plan.”
CJ Dollo said the judiciary also seeks funds to strengthen the Judicial Training Institute to offer up-to-date capacity building and refresher training to the judicial and non-judicial staff as well as construction of a robust institute of international standing.
“We will reinforce and decentralise the inspectorate of courts to effectively supervise court operations, promote judicial accountability and fight corruption.”
Dollo made a case for more funding from government, noting that in the past, there has been value for money which the judiciary has received in terms of budgetary increment.
“We are in the processing of completing the compilation of the value of cases in our courts. The preliminary report so far indicates trillions and trillions of shillings locked up in disputes in this country. The highest sums of money locked up are in the Commercial Court where we need a minimum of 20 judges to expeditiously dispose of cases,” he said.
“The average caseload per judge of the High Court now is 945 cases. We appeal for a caseload of 300 cases per judge which is possible if more judges are recruited. As you have supported the Judiciary before, we will deliver timely justice to all our people once we have the numbers.”
The Justice Minister, Nobert Mao said despite the strides made by the judiciary in transforming the institution, there is need for more funding.
“There is still need for more support, more resources and more work to be done for full operationalization of the Administration of the Judiciary Act, 2020. Resources are required to ensure a sustainable transformation agenda of the Judiciary,” Mao said.