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Chief Justice Tips Registrars, Magistrates on Recruitments and Promotions

The Chief Justice, says that the plan is to have a magistrate at each Sub-county and a Chief Magistrate in each district so as to ease access to judicial services.
30 Nov 2021 17:08

Audio 3

Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dolo has urged judicial officers to work hard and position themselves for promotions ahead of the planned recruitment exercise. The Chief Justice was speaking at the Annual Registrars and Magistrates Conference at Mestil Hotel in Kampala on Monday. 

He revealed that the cabinet approved the phased recruitment of judicial officers for three years in a bid to improve public access to courts. The judiciary plans to increase the number of Supreme Court justices from 10 to 20, Court of Appeal judges from 15 to 56, and High Court Judges from 59 to 150.

The Chief Justice, says that the plan is to have a magistrate at each Sub-county and a Chief Magistrate in each district so as to ease access to judicial services.  

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The Chief justice referred to a 2019 judiciary survey, which found that 85 percent of Ugandans face at least a legal challenge annually, 50 percent of the cases filed remain unresolved after two years while 13 million people are dealing with serious legal problems in Uganda per day. Also, that at least four million cases are abandoned annually.

Last month, the judiciary recruited and deployed 48 magistrates and transferred 17 others. The Chief Justice says that they are also still advocating for salary increments for the new recruits and those promoted. However, some judicial officers want the judiciary to make changes in its recruitment process, which they say favors outsiders compared to those already in the system. 

The Lugazi Chief Magistrate, Stella Amabilis, said that some positions require that anyone applying must have at least ten years experience as an advocate of court. This leaves out judicial officers including magistrates who have been in the system for more than ten years but have less experience practicing as lawyers. 

The system further requires an applicant to have served for at least eight years as a magistrate to qualify as a chief magistrate yet an advocate with ten years of practice as a lawyer qualifies to become a High Court Judge. Amabilis wants the Judicial service commission to consider years in practice as magistrates to compensate for years as lawyers.

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The Mpigi Grade 1 Magistrate, Adam Byarugaba also asked that judicial officers be given the first priority during recruitment. He proposed that the Chief Registrar joins the Judicial Service Commission to guide during the recruitment process.

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The chief justice committed to engaging the Judicial Service Commission to consider the plea of judicial officers seeking promotion. The chief justice also used the opportunity to ask judicial officers to prepare for their retirement. He noted that failure to prepare for retirement can lead to a short life after retirement...