In a concerning revelation during the opening session of the Arua circuit at Arua High Court, judicial officers of the Court of Appeal expressed serious concerns over the overwhelming backlog of cases in West Nile.
Deputy Chief Justice Richard Butera disclosed that the court is grappling with a staggering 8000 pending cases, attributing the issue to a dire shortage of workforce.
Butera stated, “Currently, we are not even 15 as we are supposed to be according to the constitution. We are only twelve, and the two are unavailable which leaves us 10.”
He emphasized the need for an increase in judicial personnel to effectively handle the rising caseload, adding,
“the work plan is that we have growth at every level, get 9 judges from the supreme court to 26, the court of appeal from the current 15 to 56, for the high court, from 81 to 156 so that we have magistrate grade 1 at every county, chief magistrate at every district, for the court of appeal we plan to have regional branches and once we achieve this, we shall serve the people.”
Justice Butera urged both judicial officials and the public to explore alternative ways to resolve grievances, emphasizing the importance of addressing civil and criminal litigation efficiently.
The Arua circuit, scheduled for a two-day session, aims to handle a total of 31 criminal cases from various districts of Northern Uganda. The cases include 15 of murder, 3 of robbery, and 13 of defilement.
A quorum of three justices, including Lady Justice Irene Mulyagonja, Wilfred Kiryabwire, and Lady Justice Eva Luswata, will preside over the session.
As the West Nile region grapples with this judicial challenge, stakeholders are calling for urgent attention to alleviate the strain on the justice system and ensure the timely resolution of cases.
The backlog not only affects the efficiency of the court but also impedes access to justice for those awaiting their day in court.