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Friday, 08 December 2017 10:08

Welcome Remarks : 22nd Annual JLOS Review

 

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The Honourable Chief Justice of Uganda
The Honourable Deputy Chief Justice
The Honourable Principal Judge
Honourable Ministers
My Lords, Justices and Judges of the Courts of Judicature
Your Excellency, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Chairperson of the JLOS Development Partners’ Group
Your excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions to Uganda
Honourable Members of Parliament
Heads of JLOS Institutions
Members of the JLOS Steering and Technical Committees
Members of the District Chain Linked Committees
Distinguished invited guests in your respective capacities
Ladies and Gentlemen

 

It is my honour and priviledge to welcome each and every one of you to this 22nd Annual JLOS Government of Uganda - Development Partners’ Review. We thank you for joining us today to share this important occasion in the JLOS calendar.

Sadly, we begin this review at a time when we are facing the passing of a great colleague and leader, he Honourable Lady Justice Laetitia Mukasa Kikonyogo, Deputy Chief Justice Emeritus. Lady Justice Kikonyogo will be remembered as a pioneer for women in the Judiciary, a brilliant lawyer and a dedicated Ugandan. We extend our condolences to the family of the late Justice Kikonyogo, the Chief Justice and the entire Judiciary. I request you all to rise and join me as we observe a moment of silence in her honour.

Today is a momentous day. Not only will we consider the performance of the Sector for the year 2016/17, but we will also consider the overall impact that the Sector has made over the five years of implementation of the third Sector Investment Plan (SIPIII). The day will culminate with the launch of our Fourth Sector Development Plan (SDP IV), the framework for Sector strategies and investments for the period 2017/18 to 2019/20.

We are holding this review under the theme “A Pro-people justice system: Profiling vulnerability, delivering on the Promise”. As you will see from the detailed presentation of the Report, we have over the five years of SIPIII focused on creating a more people centered justice system that addresses the challenges and responds to the needs of the most vulnerable people in our society. We have worked to reach more people with our services, creating friendly interfaces that have encouraged the public to seek justice services and provide us with feedback, where we have fallen short. We believe that we have achieved a lot of what we set out to do. With a wider infrastructure network, increased automation and improved delivery in terms of disposal of cases, improvements in the rehabilitation of offenders and improved customer service and response to clients across the institutions, among others.

We do note however that there are still challenges that are plaguing the Sector and the Fourth Strategic Development Plan (SDP IV) is our roadmap to address these issues. Challenges such as the perennial case backlog and the understaffing and welfare of Sector staff, continue to hold us back from attaining our highest potential. As the political leadership of the Sector it is our task, and a task we are committed to, to see that these challenges are addressed under the SDP IV.

I wish to welcome our partners from the rest of Government to this review. Although it is called a JLOS review, it reflects the work of the entire Government as far as the Rule of Law and justice are concerned as we are all inter-twined in this effort, whether it is in the shared delivery of services such as health, education and water or in the provision of financial and technical support. We look forward to renewed and strengthened inter-Sectoral partnerships going forward.

I wish to welcome and thank our Development Partners, with whom we have worked closely and tirelessly to achieve the successes we have registered so far. Your commitment to JLOS is appreciated and we are glad to note that this support and collaboration will continue into the SDP IV period.

To all our partners from civil society and the private sector, we look forward to your feedback and comments today, which we believe will make the Sector stronger and inform our future endeavors. We emphasise that we are working to ensure a pro-people justice system and as a cross-section of the public we welcome your input towards this journey that we are taking together.

Once again, I thank you all for gracing our invitation and I look forward to your active participation in this Annual Review.

I now take this opportunity to invite His Excellency, Ambassador Henk Jan Bakker of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Chairperson of the JLOS Development Partners’ Group to make his remarks.


FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.

Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL/MINISTER OF STATE FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

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It’s my pleasure to address you concerning Legal Aid in Uganda and particularly, the upcoming National Legal Aid Conference due to take place on 10th August 2015 at the Commonwealth Speke Resort Munyonyo. The Purpose of this Conference is to create awareness about the on-going efforts to establish a Policy, Law and National Institution on Legal Aid. The ultimate objective of the Conference is to fast track the establishment of the National Legal Aid Body. Legal Aid is the provision of free legal services to the poor, vulnerable and marginalised people who cannot afford the services of paid lawyers. Article 21 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda provides for Equality before the Law. To ensure equality of all persons before the Law and to enhance access to Justice, the provision of Legal Aid is critical.

As such, Government of Uganda has put in place measures to ensure that there is fairness in the Administration of Justice. Currently, State legal aid service providers include the Judiciary through the State Brief Scheme under which every person charged with a Capital offence is provided with an advocate at the Cost of the State, Justice Centres Uganda which is a Project of the Justice Law and Order Sector that provides Legal Aid on behalf of the State across civil and criminal justice and the Human Rights Commission. Legal aid has thus far been provided by non state actors such as FIDA and the Legal Aid Project of the Uganda Law Society.

The Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) with support from the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) and in consultation with other state and non state actors developed the National Legal Aid Policy which is currently before cabinet for approval. After that, a National Legal Aid Bill shall be tabled before Parliament. The passing of this law will result in the establishment of a National Body with a mandate to provide Legal Aid across all areas of the Law.

The Government is committed to supporting programmes that promote economic development.The provision of legal Aid greatly empowers individuals and communities as a whole and as such, a comprehensive delivery of State funded legal Aid would in the long term result in the realisation of Uganda’s development aspirations espoused in Vision 2040.

To have Legal Aid in place, the Government and indeed all the other stakeholders will need to be clear on how it will be funded and how sustainable this funding will be. Furthermore, it is critical that the service offered is of good professional quality and that there are standards in place to ensure this. The Conference is therefore, going to spend a significant amount of time investigating these issues and to this end we have invited legal aid practitioners from other jurisdictions including South Africa and the USA to learn from the best. They will share experiences on how they have ensured a sustainable professional legal aid service delivery to the extent that in South Africa, even people who can afford the service are requesting the legal aid programme to open a section for those who can afford. We know that these will go a long way in informing Uganda’s efforts towards legal aid delivery by the State.

The conference shall be officiated by H.E. the President of the Republic of Uganda and at this conference, we shall take stock of how far we have come and come up with a way forward on when, how, how much money, and all other modalities required to support legal aid services by the State of Uganda.

Government is therefore in full support of the establishment of the body and will provide the requisite guidance and support towards this cause. I therefore invite you to create as much awareness as possible about these efforts in order to generate discussions and consultations about what this service should look like.

I thank you! 

 

HON. MWESIGWA RUKUTANA (M.P)
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL AND STATE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE & CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

Issued: August 7, 2015 at the Uganda Media Centre, Kampala

 

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