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Ministry Seeks Special Court to Handle Environment Cases

The Ministry of Water and Environment is in the final stages of discussion with the Judiciary and other relevant bodies to have special courts established in order to handle environmental cases.

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The Ministry of Water and Environment is in the final stages of discussion with the Judiciary and other relevant bodies to have special courts established in order to handle environmental cases.

The ministry hopes this will help clear backlog and speed up trails in cases related to environment such as encroachment to wetlands, forests and water bodies.

Currently all cases are handled by the ordinary courts except for the army.

Flavia Munaaba, the state minister for environment, said in an interview with Uganda Radio Network that environment matters are technical and requires persons with specialised knowledge to handle the cases.

She also pointed that such cases also touches on daily lives of the people since some involve property and hence the need for special courts to expressly handle the matters.

The ministry is currently in discussions with the Judiciary and other line ministries to see how the courts can be established. If agreed upon, it will require more resources to train lawyers in environmental laws and recruitment of new staff.

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Data from the ministry indicates that there are more than 1000 cases related to environment pending before various courts across the country.

Elias Omar Kisawuzi, the public relations officer for the Judiciary, says Judiciary welcomed the idea but it will first need more discussions before its embraced.

 

Environmentalists such as Samson Obitre, Executive Director for Community Action to Save Environment, says lack of such courts has seen encroachers successfully take over and destroy forests and wetlands. 

Hamza Morgan, a forester, says the establishment of the special courts should have come earlier. Morgan says persons who wished to encroach on such protected land have already achieved their aims and the courts will only do post mortem examinations.