Uganda’s Justice System Addresses Challenges with Ambitious Plans

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Norbert Mao

The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Uganda is seeking a budget of 103 billion shillings to construct approximately 4,000 prisons, aiming to alleviate the persistent issue of congestion in detention centers. This revelation came during the presentation of the Access to Justice Sub Programme Annual Report for the fiscal year 2022/2023. Despite the challenges posed by overcrowded facilities, the report also highlights advancements in addressing case backlogs through innovative approaches.

The annual report emphasizes the ongoing struggle with congestion in detention centers, prompting the ministry to request substantial funding for the construction of additional prisons. Robert Kasande, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, disclosed this information, indicating the pressing need to address the issue of overcrowding.

On a positive note, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Norbert Mao, expressed optimism regarding the gradual reduction of case backlogs. He attributed this improvement to the adoption of Alternative Dispute Resolution methods, Plea Bargain, and reconciliation strategies.

Despite these advancements, challenges persist, including an outstanding rent expenditure of over 300 million shillings. Permanent Secretary Kasande mentioned that relief might come after the construction of the Justice Law and Order House.

Minister Mao used the opportunity to call on the police to refrain from using lethal force and emphasized the importance of officers identifying themselves during arrests. He also underscored the significance of maintaining the 48-hour rule, dismissing any discussions about constitutional amendments to change it.

This report comes amid ongoing challenges in the judiciary, including a substantial case backlog of over 40,000 cases and debates surrounding the size of Uganda’s judicial human resources, with 20 positions at the Supreme Court and 55 at the Court of Appeal.