KAMPALA – President Yoweri Museveni has told judges that justice can be served with or without money.
The President was on Monday addressing judges of the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court at their 24th Annual Conference – held at Mestil Hotel, Kampala.
“Should we say that a country without enough money will have no Justice? Is that really what we are saying…that a country without enough money shall have no justice? Me, my answer is when we were in the bush, controlling the Luwero triangle we were having very serious justice without money. I was both Chief Justice and President,” said Museveni.
The President’s statement followed Chief Justice; Alfonse Owiny-Dollo’s speech in which he observed that the inadequate funding to the judiciary had hindered the recruit of the required judicial officers – which delayed taking justice closer to the people.
He said that the three arms of government needed to agree on the issue of prioritisation depending on the available resources.
“What if you don’t have enough money to do this or that? Because – this is the problem of these other countries, which are guarded by UN, which I consider an insult…
“I can’t be guarded by the UN – UN will never come here in Uganda to guard us. It is an insult, we can defend ourselves money or no money,” added Museveni.
The President said that when he met the Chief Justice a year ago, they set a target of Ugx800b for the Judiciary and that at the time; this judicial arm of justice had a budget of only Ugx190b.
“But with a national budget of Ugx45trn, separating the strategy and ideology from reality…I thought really it was not too much for the whole branch of Judiciary to get Ugx800b (out) of the Ugx45trn. I said, no, this one we can do. Not because I am saying, no money no justice, no money no army, I reject that, I am not part of that,” he jerked.
Museveni said that the inter-branch will look at the available money and what can be done.
The 24th Annual Judges Conference is held under the theme: ‘The Judiciary Transformation Agenda: Enhanced Access to Justice.’
Chief Justice Dollo said that their agenda was geared towards enhancing access to justice services across Uganda.
He noted that the five key areas they resolved to pursue are recruitment and deployment of more judicial and non-judicial officers and providing them with modern and adequate tools of work, establishment of more courts across the country in order to eliminate case backlog and to bring justice services nearest to the people, strengthening the judicial training institute, reinforcing the inspectorate of courts and heavily investing in ICT.
“We have a fast rising population; the number of judicial officers serving the people of Uganda must accordingly also rise. Otherwise the people who seek justice, the people for whom we hold these offices will remain suffering because we cannot extend the justice they deserve,” said Dollo.
He said that for the judiciary to achieve its targets, they will need a corresponding budgetary provision in order to make a difference in rendering justice in the country.
The Chief Justice said that the average caseload per judge of the High Court is currently 945 cases and appealed for a caseload of 300 cases per judge. He said that this is possible if more judges are recruited so that the Judiciary delivers justice to all people.