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Delayed Replacement of Chief Magistrate Affects Judicial Services in Moroto

The absence of a resident Chief Magistrate has affected cases mainly related to sexual violence in the region. Although statistics at Moroto Central Prison indicates that there are more than 700 inmates in the cells, over 500 inmates are on remand due to absence of a substantive court jurisdiction to try them.
Signpost to Moroto Courts.

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The delayed replacement of the Moroto Chief Magistrate has affected the delivery of justice to the people in Karamoja sub region. In September 2017, the Judiciary Chief Registrar, Gadenya Wolimbwa transferred the Moroto Chief Magistrate, Charles Yeteise to Buganda Road Court without replacement. 

Since then, the Moroto Chief Magistrate's office has been under the care of the Soroti Chief Magistrate, Emmy Geoffrey Sayekwo who visits Moroto occasionally. 

The absence of a resident Chief Magistrate has affected cases mainly related to sexual violence in the region. Although statistics at Moroto Central Prison indicates that there are more than 700 inmates in the cells, over 500 inmates are on remand due to absence of a substantive court jurisdiction to try them. 

During the child marriage dialogue organized by Uganda Media Development Foundation in Moroto last week, stakeholders called for the replacement of the Moroto chief magistrate to expedite administration of justice.

Thomas Ochen Opige, the Legal Officer in Charge human Rights at Mt. Moroto Regional Police Office, says they many lose many sexual related cases if the Moroto Chief Magistrate is not replaced. 

Ochen observes that many residents of Karamoja want express trial of offenders to adduce evidence. He explains that his experience shows that lengthy procedures have failed many cases as witnesses lose interest in following the matter.

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There has been very low response by witnesses to testify in court especially during High Court sessions in Moroto.  As a result, the state has lost a number of cases after failing to secure witnesses, whom according to local leaders in Karamoja, fear to testify in court. 

Betty Acen, a Legal Officer with Uganda Association of Women Lawyers-FIDA Moroto office, concurs with the police findings on delayed justice. She notes that long adjournments due to the absence of the Resident Chief Magistrate can compel some complainants and witnesses to abandon cases in court.

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Solomon Muyita, the Senior Communications Officer for the Judiciary, says there was a short fall of Chief Magistrates that he notes affected Moroto. He, however, revealed that Moroto and two other chief magisterial areas in Karamoja may benefit from 18 newly recruited staff.

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The Moroto chief magisterial area covers Moroto, Kotido and Nakapiripirit districts.