MPs on Parliament’s Budget Committee are divided over the Shs5bn requested by the Judiciary and Police to procure armored cars for judges.
The Judiciary is requesting Shs1.653bn to procure armored cars for judges over security threats they are facing. Uganda Police is also seeking Shs3.5bn for the purchase of security vehicles for the judges.
However, some MPs are wondering why Government is normalizing this trend in Uganda.
Fox Odoi (West Budama North East) informed the Committee that judges and other judicial officers face security threats during the execution of their constitutional duties as a result of handling sensitive cases and in the recent past, there were attempts on the lives of some judicial officers.
“Therefore, there was an urgent need to enhance the security of judges and other judicial officers. The committee recommends that Shs1.65Bn be approved for supplementary to ensure the security of judges and other judicial officers is guaranteed,” said Odoi.
However, the lawmakers during a meeting held between the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, and the Budget Committee were divided on the request with some questioning the Judiciary’s specialty in determining the security needs of its judicial officers, instead of leaving such a decision to Uganda Police.
Maxwell Akora (Maruzi County) pointed out that MPs too are in similar security position, and also need escorts and wondered how judges are going to deploy in security details whereas their job is to dispense justice.
“I think their security is better secured by fair judicial decisions, so I will not support. In any case, it is a recurring thing, it isn’t going to be a one off,” said Akora.
Paul Omara (Otuke County) warned that approval of the supplementary request would create a very bad precedent where security is earmarked for the big shots in the country, yet all these increased security is creating pressure on the country’s expenditure.
“One of the things that this country can’t afford is an overbearing public expenditure one of which is on vehicle and vehicle maintenance. The Ministry of Justice doesn’t provide security. We need to look at those things under police because even if we provide for money, it will be Police to look at all the security details. Why have we created a situation where all the big people don’t feel safe? The peasants are there without money for PDM, but you find the big people, they all want the security vehicles,” said Omara.
Patrick Isiagi (Kacumbala County) however defended the expenditure, arguing that it will give the judicial officers confidence to execute their work because the judgments dished out don’t provide a win-win situation since there are some parties that lose out, thus creating need for security.
“These judgments are always in a way that the winner takes it all which means the other side will never feel they have been treated well and when the ruling is done, it isn’t a negotiated ruling, so once they rule, one party has to be disgruntled automatically. So providing security is to also give judges confidence when they are doing their work,” said Isiagi.
Akamba (Busiki County) questioned why the Judiciary and Uganda Police are all requesing money for the same.
“Police is the entity that has the expertise to buy such equipment. Why do we separate the vehicle and other security with judiciary as if it is an expert in security issues?” asked Akamba.
Fox Odoi explained that the budget for the purchase of police escort vehicles was sent to Uganda Police because those police vehicles are property of Police, while the Judiciary will be in charge of purchasing classified security equipment.