The Secretary to Judiciary, Pius Bigirimana has decried the poor conditions Ugandan Courts are in.
“In some courts, the suspects use the same doors as the magistrates and judges. You risk the life of judicial officer, they can be strangled. We have courts with no toilets. Can you imagine? It is so shameful! I find it disturbing; we demean ourselves as a country. You’re talking about delivering justice and you’re not being just to the people delivering justice,” said Bigirimana.
He made the revelation today while leading the team of Judiciary officials who had appeared before Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to present their 2020/2021 national budget framework paper.
Bigirimana said most of the courts are in rented premises and are in a horrible state to the extent that justices at the Court of Appeal and Constitutional court are being mixed with restaurants, something that has seen judges’ chambers filled up with smells from restaurants.
Against the above background, the Judiciary is seeking for Shs23bn for the construction of new courts across the country as well as the renovation of the existing courts.
Documents before Parliament show that for the construction of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals premises, Judiciary needs Shs10bn that will help to avert the ever increasing expenditure on rent.
The Judiciary is also seeking for Shs3bn for the rollout of video conferencing to six High court circuit in Mbarara, Ninjas, Arua, Masaka, Gulu & Fort Portal to help reduce on case backlog and reduces on prisons expense on transportation of prisoners and guarantee security of high profile suspects.
For the construction of Chief Magistrates courts in Alebtong, Ntoroko, Gonna and Buloba and 4 Grade 1 in Abim, Maracha, Namayingo, Kazo, the Judiciary needs Shs3bn, while the renovations of 9 courts will cost Shs3.6bn.
The Judiciary is also seeking for Shs3Bn for the construction of High Court circuits of Soroti and Rukungiri, Shs2.2bn for the provision of solar equipment and furniture, Shs3Bn for Election petition cases Shs3Bn and Shs6.5bn for the establishment and operationalization of ECMIS.
However, all the above activities remain unfunded, risking to leave the Judiciary with Shs77.84bn of unfunded priorities.
Markson Oboth, Chairperson Legal and Parliamentary Affairs said the renting of court premises interferes on the independence of the Judiciary.
In 2020/2021, the Judiciary is putting emphasis on electronic handling of business with a plan in the offing to put in place a system that is going to help track cases through by filing on line, payment on line and notification on line aimed at reducing the human product which has been source of corruption.
“We want to eletronise archiving of files so we don’t have these huge files lying in offices there will no crying that files have disappeared. We shall pilot this in 19 courts and later to other courts,” Bigirimana said.