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Alternative Dispute Resolution Aided Judiciary Clear Case Backlog- Chief Justice

The Performance Report is in fulfilment of section 39(1) of the Administration of the Judiciary Act , 2020 that requires the Chief Justice to publish an annual performance report for every concluded financial year and distribute copies to the same to the President, Speaker and any other other stakeholder.
Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo

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The Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has revealed that the Judiciary    disposed of more than 150,000 cases in this financial year, majority of which completed with the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms.

According to the Chief Justice, during the financial year  2020/2021,  the Judiciary had a total case load of 317,929 but due to Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms such as plea bargaining program, mediation and small claims procedure, he says they have successfully concluded 156,875 cases.

Owiny-Dollo revealed this during the launch of the first ever Judiciary Annual Performance Report at a function held at the Judiciary Headquarters in Kampala on Monday.

The Performance Report is in fulfilment of section 39(1) of the Administration of the Judiciary Act, 2020 that requires the Chief Justice to publish an annual performance report for every concluded financial year and distribute copies to the same to the President, Speaker and any other other stakeholder.

According to Owiny-Dollo, the performance  which he described as good has also been attributed to use of video conferencing system to hear  cases which reduces the delays due to bringing prisoners and suspects to courts, weeding out of dormant cases, and Judicial Officers using the COVID-19 lockdown period to write judgements and deliver them online via email.

Despite the disposal of these cases, Owiny-Dollo says the Judicial Officers were over stretched and couldn't dispose of the cases in time. He explained  that because of the increased population of Uganda estimated to be over 40 million people, the ratio of the Judicial officers to this population for example at Supreme Court is that one Judge to 5 million people, Court of Appeal one to 3 million people, High Court one Judge to 793,103 people and at the Magistrates' level each has to attend to a population of 158,075 people.

The Chief Justice further noted that the backlog level as of June 30th 2021 stood at 51,748 cases which he attributed to inadequate funding and staffing of his institution.  In Uganda, a case is considered to be in backlog when it spends more than two years in the court system.

As such, the head of the Judiciary has  recommended that the recruitment plan for the financial year 2021/2022 which provides for 697 judicial officers and 958 Support Staff should be effectively and followed in a timely manner  if the citizens are to get effective justice and have courts at all levels starting from sub-counties. 

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