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Judiciary Plans to Promote Mediation to Reduce Case Backlog

Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo

The Judiciary is proposing plans to promote mediation in courts of law, to help in reducing backlog of cases across the country.

The Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo revealed that mediation remains a crucial aspect for the judicial work and promoting it will help tackle the slow administration of justice in courts.

Speaking to journalists at the sidelines of his visit to the Chief Magistrate’s court in Kitgum municipality, Justice Owiny-Dollo said many litigants cases continue to pile in courts because of the few magistrates and chief magistrates.

“The other thing that we are going to promote in the Judiciary is mediation, that is a crucial aspect for our judicial work. Instead of the adversarial system that we inherited from our colonial masters where you win or you lose,” said Owiny Dollo.

He said that the adversarial system is un-African, but mediated settlement and reconciliation is rooted in the African jurisprudence, and the African justice system.

“So we are going to promote that so that you find that when there are ten cases and four are sorted out by mediation, the magistrate is left with only six, and then we develop to a point where out of ten cases, only two are left to him and eight are resolved through mediation,” he said optimistically.

Justice Owiny Dollo acknowledges that many magisterial areas in the country are still grappling with case backlogs because of limited man power. For instance, he cited Kitgum magisterial area whose Chief Magistrate also handles Lamwo district.

He note that the Judiciary with an increased budget this financial year will recruit a new Chief Magistrate for Lamwo district so that it’s delinked from Kitgum Magisterial area.

“Then next financial year we shall have a grade one magistrate operating in Madi-opei, Namokora and Kitgum Matidi so that people don’t have to travel from far distances like Orom to come to Kitgum for a court case,” he added.

This financial year, the government allocated 375 billion shillings to the Judiciary, nearly double the budget figures it has over the years been receiving.

Justice Owiny Dollo says with expectation of even having the budget doubled in the next financial year, the Judiciary’s plans on having all sub counties across the county have Grade one Magistrates and decentralization of high courts and Courts of appeal will be achieved.

For instance in Kitgum district, plans are already underway to operationalize the high court in the financial year 2022/2023. Other areas are Nebbi, Kumi, Kamuli, Kasese, Apac, Kumi, Mityana and Ibanda where high courts will be operational in the same financial year.

The Chief Justice accompanied by the Kitgum Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Akullo, and district local government and Municipal council officials on Monday made inspections on the proposed one acre piece of land expected to house the High court. He however requested that the district leaders sit down with current occupants of the land to grant space for extension of the High court premises.

The Judiciary is also currently in the process of acquiring land for the construction of two Courts of Appeal centers for Northern Uganda in Gulu city and Mbarara city covering the greater Western Uganda.

According to Justice Dollo, subsequent Courts of Appeal will be constructed in Mubende, Masaka, Arua, Jinja and Mbale to reduce the costs of seeking for justice.

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