KAMPALA - The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has urged judicial officers to base their judgments on the law and not emotions.
She said this while closing the 25th Annual Judges' Conference at Kampala Serena Hotel on Thursday, 08 February 2024.
"Courts are a House of record whose decisions set precedents upon which subsequent decisions are premised. Therefore, judicial officers should base their decisions on the law, not emotions, so that such decisions can stand the test of time," Among said.
She appealed to Judiciary to place people at the heart of judicial processes and decisions, saying a people-centric judiciary is pivotal in fostering judicial accountability, independence and easing access to justice.
"Decisions and actions of judicial officers should be open to public scrutiny. This will ensure that both the public and judicial officers are accountable to legal requirements which will foster proper performance of their responsibilities," Among said.
The year's Conference has been running from Monday, 05 February 2024 under the theme: "A People-Centered Approach to Justice."
Among said the centrality of people in all public processes and decisions should not only be the judiciary's responsibility but should also act as a convergence point for all other arms of Government.
She also advised judicial officers to uphold professionalism at all times.
"I would like to appeal to you all to exhibit high levels of professionalism, ethics, judicial etiquette, and decorum in dispensing judicial services to the citizens. We owe our people a just, fair, truthful, and satisfactory service," Among said.
The Speaker pledged full support to the Judiciary in pursuit of the strategic objectives of the Judiciary Transformation Agenda (2020-2025), which is hinged on enhancing equitable access to justice, improving court processes and case management, developing and supporting the judiciary workforce and institutional capacity.
"This is evidenced by the increased budgetary appropriation, favourable and appropriate oversight of the judiciary to aid its efficiency and effectiveness," she said.
Recently, Parliament enacted the Administration of the Judiciary Act, 2020, and the Judicature (Amendment) Act, 2023 which will seek to improve the welfare of judicial officers and increase the number of judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, respectively.
According to Speaker Among, the increase in the number of judges is a game-changer in addressing recurring challenges of case backlog.
As of 2023, the average caseload per judge of the High Court stood at 945 cases annually which she said is way higher than what other judges in Africa have on their table.
In his remarks, the Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo called for a cordial working relationship among the three arms of Government for better dispensation of services to the public.
“We shall make a better country if the three heads of arms of government speak to one another without losing the independence which the constitution clearly states…For as long as Judiciary is under my charge, I will continue to relate with other arms but vehemently with jealousy, defend the independence of the Judiciary,” Owiny-Dollo said.
The Annual Judges' Conference allows judges to build synergies, consensus, and share experiences and challenges to strengthen judicial processes.