Breaking

Karamoja Rape Victims Miss Justice Following Escape of Moroto Prisoners

Therefore the affected girls and women who were supposed to access justice this week have been forced to wait indefinitely because the 15 suspects on High Court special session course list are on the run.
Justice Wilson Masalu Mesene greets court officials in Moroto on Monday

Audio 1



The legal maxim that Justice delayed is Justice denied seems to be applying on more than a dozen victims of rape in Karamoja sub-region, as a consequence of the September Moroto mass prisonbreak.

It transpires that 15 of the escapees were accused of sexual violence and now their trial obviously cannot proceed.

Therefore the affected girls and women who were supposed to access justice this week have been forced to wait indefinitely because the 15 suspects on High Court special session course list are on the run.

Uganda Radio Network has established that the 15 are part of 50 cases listed for being heard during the ongoing SGBV Special Session cause list being held at Moroto High Court Circuit presided by the Soroti Resident High Court Judge, Justice Wilson Masala Musene, who officially opened the two week session today in Moroto.

Antony Obwonyo Jabwor, the Resident State Attorney of Kotido where most cases came from informed Justice Mesene during the opening of the trial that 15 inmates are on the run and their victims will be forced to wait for justice indefinitely until the suspects are arrested to face the law.

“15 suspects out of 50 are on the run, while one was killed,” he said.

Our reporter has established that 11 escapees were indicted for murder while 4 are to facing rape charges. All the suspects are from Kotido district.

The Special session supported by United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) aimed at fostering justice for  victims of sexual gender based violence was due in August but was delayed following a busy schedule in the high court.  According to the cause list seen by Uganda Radio Network, all cases involve murder, rape and aggravated defilement.

Justice Musene said court would proceed to hear the 35 criminal cases which also involve 4 juveniles.

The Registrar of the special court session Richard Aisu who is the serving Kotido Grade I magistrate welcomed the session as a timely intervention from the Justice Law and Order Sector to several inmates who have been on remand since 2015.

//Cue in:"This session is ....

Cue out: ... hopeless situation."//

He advised the Kotido Resident State Attorney to prepare witnesses and for the defence lawyers to be ready so that the hearing process does not waste time because of lack of witnesses or other reasons.

While opening the session, Justice Musene urged the legal team to encourage plea bargaining to speed up the trial process.

Earlier there was contention whether the hearing should proceed amid the coronavirus pandemic which has hit Moroto prisons. The Karamoja Region Prisons Commander, SSP Sam Edotu attempted to block the hearing from taking place saying the prison authorities does not entertain any people inside or outside the facility, because it has been declared a treatment centre. But it was agreed that any further delay would shatter hope for the inmates, some of whom have been on remand for several years, without justice.