Public Accounts Committee Urges Urgent Judicial Reforms Amidst Surging Court Backlogs.

The Public Accounts Committee (Central Government) has emphasized the urgent need for judicial reforms to ensure the swift delivery of justice. In its recent report on the Auditor General’s assessment of the Justice, Law, and Order sector for the Financial Year 2021/2022, presented by Hon. Fredrick Angura (Tororo South County), the Committee highlighted the persistent issue of delayed court cases hindering access to justice.

During the plenary sitting on Thursday, 19 October 2023, Angura revealed that despite a notable decrease in case backlogs, the judicial system still grapples with a substantial number of pending cases across all levels.

Statistics from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) indicated a significant rise in the national average backlog of cases pending prosecution, soaring from 55,342 cases in the previous year to 124,316 in the current year, marking an increase of 68,974 cases.

The Committee’s findings pinpointed specific regions, including Nakawa, Kampala, Mbale, and Mbarara, where 44 percent of the case backlog is concentrated. This backlog refers to cases pending in courts for an extended period beyond the prescribed duration, which is currently set at two years according to Judiciary rules and internal guidelines.

Hon Emmanuel Ongiertho, the Member of Parliament for Jonam County, emphasized the necessity of addressing land-related cases, which often lead to prolonged disputes and fatal conflicts due to their extended resolution timelines.

Additionally, Hon Agnes Apea, the Amolatar District Woman Representative, highlighted the challenge of access to justice in remote districts like Amolatar, where infrequent presence of judicial officers exacerbates the frustration of the local population with the judicial system.

Furthermore, Hon Richard Oseku, the Member of Parliament for Kibale County, underscored the financial burden associated with seeking justice in Uganda. He noted that the cost of legal proceedings is exorbitant, leading to lengthy delays even in the payment of court-awarded settlements.

This delay has been attributed to insufficient budget allocation from the Ministry of Finance, leaving individuals waiting for their court awards for more than five years in some cases.



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