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Solicitor General Pinned Over Dormant Cases

Legislators on the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday tasked the Solicitor General Francis Atoke to explain why his office has failed to resolve cases dating back to the 1980s.
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Legislators on the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday tasked the Solicitor General Francis Atoke to explain why his office has failed to resolve cases dating back to the 1980s.

Atoke was asked why his office has sat on over 40,000 cases without follow ups to bring them to a logical conclusion.

According to the Auditor General's report ending June 2011, the Attorney General had approximately 40,000 active files in court for the financial year 2010/2011.  The Auditor General states that it was difficult to ascertain the exact number of active files as there is no proper record of the cases being handled by the Attorney General's Chambers.

This case backlog, according to the Auditor General, can be explained by the fact that in the department of civil litigation there are only 23 state attorneys, a ratio of one state attorney to 1739 cases. The Auditor General advised that the department of litigation should have applied for the immediate dismissal of the said cases to reduce on the backlog.

Cheborion Barishaki, the Director for Litigation in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, argued that his office did carry out some action and hearing dates for each case were set which means they did not incur any losses.

//Cue in: “The case of….

Cue out:…abandon it ourselves.”//

Paul Mwiru, the PAC Vice chairperson, noted that the loss manifests itself in the case backlogs that the judiciary registers thus advising the civil registry to always dismiss the cases. However, the Ministry of Justice officials insisted that most of the cases were set aside.

One of the cases whose file URN saw was filed in 1989, but it remained dormant because the state attorney handling the case at the time reasoned that he had no transport to get to court.

The committee led by Eddie Kwizera, the Bufumbira East MP, also questioned why the solicitor general did not discuss and tell the auditors that the cases were retired for the auditors to exclude the old cases from the report. However, Atoke and the director civil litigation said they did not meet the auditors at the time of auditing.

Officials from the Auditor General then clarified that they wrote a letter to the Ministry of Justice which replied stating that they had commenced a file census as a way forward with a promise to weed out the dormant files.

//Cue in: “When they came…

Cue out:…the dormant files.”//

The Auditor General also observed that the department of civil litigation does not have a registered process server for purposes of service of court documents.

The Auditor General recommends to the accounting officer to conduct a census of all the files to ascertain the number of active files and weed out the dormant ones.

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