The Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has revealed plans to establish a
specialized Court to handle environmental matters that have become a challenge
in both local and International arenas.
Justice Owiny-Dollo noted that cases of wetland encroachment, poaching,
hazardous waste disposal, interference with the eco-system and depleting
critical flora are some of the key concerns to be managed.
This during the Annual General meeting of judicial officers under Uganda
Judicial Officers Association which was conducted via zoom.
The Chief Justice was represented by his Deputy Richard Buteera, who
reported that the Judiciary Administration is working hard to ensure that
Administration of the Judiciary Act is operationalized to the benefit of the
judicial officers adding that so far sound progress is being made for the court
users also to benefit through improved access to justice.
Justice Buteera explained that following the closure of the Execution and
Bailiff’s Division of High Court in 2020 , the plans are underway to start the
Environmental Division which environmentalists have always demanded.
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become the second country in East Africa to establish an environment court.
Currently Kenya has an environment and land court. Both have the powers of High
decision to establish an environment court comes just two months after the Eat
Africa Court of Justice trained judges and judicial officers on environment and
training which took place in Kigali Rwanda was on the of the
judiciary in promoting the rule of law and environmental justice for
sustainable development in East Africa.
expectations were the need for Improved understanding of the critical role of
judges and judicial officers in the development, enforcement and compliance
with environmental laws as well as its challenges.
and judicial officers were to come up with an agreement on the process to
develop and define a reporting mechanism on the performance of national
judiciaries in the East and Horn of Africa towards the implementation of SDG16.
systems around the world face obstacles to settling environmental cases quickly
and fairly, whether from corruption, drawn-out trials or judges who lack
understanding of environmental issues.
environmental courts have emerged as an important defense against human-caused
destruction of the environment. China has over 300 environmental courts.
Director Africa Institute For Energy Governance, Dickens Kamugisha welcomed the
development but doubted whether with in Uganda’s judiciary given challenges
like corruption and lack of resources.
According to the speech of Chief Justice, the institution's budget has been
increased from about 191 billion shillings to 318 billion shillings for the
financial year 2021/2022.
The Chief Justice intimated that budgetary enhancement will help in
recruitment of more judicial officers, enhancement of staff welfare and
establishment of Chief Magistrate Court at each district level, Magistrate
Grade One at each constituency level, more High Court circuits and
decentralization of Court of Appeal across the country as they push for more
He also said a number of areas have identified for reforms in order to promote
access to justice which include review of Court bailiff’s rules, Court of
Appeal rules, Court Bail Guidelines, Court fees rules, appellate Mediation
rules and Amicus Curiae practice directions.
The Judiciary also plans to enhance jurisdiction of magistrate Court in a bid
to enhance access to justice and to reduce case backlog.
The Chief Justice noted that magistrate are soon running out of work
given the escalating inflatable levels and the current market values of
products citing an example that an average motor vehicle goes for about 50
million shillings while a 50x100 plot of land in the suburb of any city costs
about 50 million shillings yet the majority of magistrates can only handle
cases involving up to 20 million shillings.
In this current financial year Judiciary further intends to
operationalize Luweero High Court to bring services near to the people of
Luweero, Nakasongola and Nakaseke districts who have been trekking up Kampala
to access High Court Services for all the years.
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On her part the Chief Registrar Sarah Langa warned judicial officers against
absenteeism, corruption, disunity violation of the judicial code of conduct.
However, the UjOA President Justice Tadeo Asiimwe used the zoom meeting to
reiterate the demands for improved transport means and
security guards for all the Judicial officers, an issue that has always
featured prominently in the past meetings.