Uganda to get tougher on organised crime with Netherlands, UNODC support

Uganda’s criminal and justice system is set to benefit from the strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice program launched by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) with support from the Government of Netherlands.

The five year program will offer support to Uganda to increase access to quality  legal aid, and enhance efficiency in the criminal justice system.

Even as government makes strides under the justice, law and order sector to strengthen the rule of law, human rights and access to justice, the country still faces several challenges particularly due to institutional capacity limitations.

To support government to achieve this, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes with support from the Netherlands government has launched a five year 13 million dollar program dubbed Strengthening Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

According to Miss Sharon Nyambe, there are five key areas of focus.

Nyambe said, “I would like to emphasize that this program in not imposed on the Government of Uganda, by the UN, it was a collective effort involving the police, prisons, judiciary and DPP.

The areas we will focus on will be, strengthening mechanisms for court administration and case management by criminal justice institutions in Uganda, increase access to quality legal aid and legal information targeting vulnerable groups, enhance efficiency in the criminal justice system and promote alternatives to imprisonment.”

Other areas include Increasing access to comprehensive and evidence based crime prevention and prevention of violent extremism programmes targeting women and youth in at risk settings and protect Uganda’s economy from illicit financial flows and money laundering.

On March 9, 2021, at the  at the UN convention in Kyoto on crime prevention and criminal justice, former Minister of Justice Ephraim Kamuntu expressed a need to support the criminal justice system to respond to organized crime and related threats.

Neil Walsh, UNODC regional rep for East Africa, emphasized that this is a Ugandan home grown program is about making sustainable change in the justice system.

Netherlands Ambassador to Uganda H.E Karin Boven said it is a timely and important program as criminal systems around the world including Uganda are facing several challenges.

She said, “These challenges include capacity gaps in systems and processes which affects the efficiency and effectiveness of institutions in addressing the justice needs of communities”.

AIGP Tom Magambo, Director Criminal Investigations Directorate, revealed that through support from UNODC, the institute has adopted the digitalisation of the system  in order achieve a speedy case tracking system.

Deputy Chief Justice Richard Butera welcomed the program saying the judiciary is committed to the program to further promote the rule of law.

The program will target criminal justice actors at the National Level and in terms of geographic coverage, focusing on the northern and Eastern regions.

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