Annual JLOS Review Conference
The Justice, Law and Order Sector on September 27 2012 held the 17th Annual Government of Uganda and Development Partners Review at Imperial Royale Hotel.
The theme of the Review was “making reforms count”, which is built on the 12 years the sector has been implementing reforms between 1999 and 2005 centered on criminal and commercial justice with the scope of the reforms being expanded in 2005 to cover family, land, transitional justice and accountability.
The Chief Justice, Justice Benjamin Odoki who is also the Chair of the JLOS Leadership Committee in his keynote address said that the sector had registered tremendous success in the year under review despite a host of challenges and shortcomings. Notable was a reduction in a case backlog, in which the sector for the first time in a decade reduced case backlog by 21 %. Whereas, 90,000 cases were registered in 2011, the courts completed 116,000 cases meaning the courts reduced case backlog by 21,600 cases beating last year’s (2010/11) performance where the courts completed 103,000 cases. The Chief Justice credited this performance to the Case Backlog Quick Wins Programme rolled out by the sector a few years ago.
Other achievements of the sector included improvements in crime prevention because of the pro-active stance taken by the Uganda Police Force, effective prosecution of corruption cases in the year under review by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the continued decline of registered re-offending rates by the Uganda Prisons (which are among the lowest in the world) and the restructuring of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau which increased collection of non-tax revenue from 2.4 billion shillings per annum a year ago to 24 billion shillings thereby reestablishing itself as a strong resource mobiliser.
The Chair of the JLOS Development Partners Group who is also the ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Uganda, H.E Alphons Hennekens lauded the sector for the achievements accomplished in the year under review and called for more emphasis and focus on “actual” access to justice instead of “physical” access to justice during the implementation of SIP III. Ambassador Hennekens also said that the challenges that now face the sector would best be overcome through a combined effort and commitment from all member institutions.
The challenges that still face the sector include understaffing of JLOS institutions which hampers effective service delivery. By June 2012, the Uganda Police Force had a staff shortfall of 22,270, Uganda Prisons Service 1,117, the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control 54, the Ministry of Internal Affairs 63, the Ministry of Justice 58, the Judiciary 123, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions 138, the Judicial Service Commission 10. However, efforts and mechanisms are being put in place to reduce this staffing gap facing sector institutions.
During the conference, the JLOS development partners (Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, United Kingdom, and the United States of America), UN Women and UNICEF were applauded for generously supporting the sector and being part of its success story.
The sector will over the next one year prioritize the completion and development of the pilot implementation of a performance management system for all judicial officers (by June 2013); finalize and submit to cabinet a proposed national legal aid policy and law (by June 2013).