Case Backlog Reduction Program
The Justice Law and Order Sector places the safety of the person and security of property at the core of its programmes, because the two imperatives define our role in the National Development Plan, whose theme, is Growth, Employment ,Prosperity for Social Economic Transformation. We contribute to the theme of the National Development Plan through the timely disposal of disputes that come before the various JLOS institutions.
As a sector we have had challenges of dealing with case backlog at various points- pausing in the process serious challenges to the realization of the National Development Plan and in particular, empowering the population to get out of poverty. Delays in processing and adjudicating cases at various levels impact severely on Uganda’s competitiveness, because it increases the cost of production and renders our goods and services uncompetitive in a world which is obsessed with buying goods and services at the least cost.
In March 2010, the Justice Law and Order Sector Case Backlog Quick Wins Reduction Programme was launched to clear at least 18,400old cases. The long term objective of the programme was to decongest prisons, expedite the adjudication of disputes and generally improve the legal environment for doing business in Uganda.
Since launching the programme, JLOS institutions have completed more than 80,000 cases through adjudication and quality assurance. Credit goes to the Judges and staff of all JLOS institutions and the public who contributed to the success of the programme.
The JLOS Case backlog reduction programme has registered several achievements, which include the following:
• Through targeted and intensified hearing of capital cases in the High Court, the programme has reduced the average time capital offenders spend on remand from 29 months to 15.1 months. In Luzira - Upper Maximum Prison, the convict –remand ratio improved from 50:50 to 53:47- for the first time in 28 years. While in South Western Region, the convict remand ratio improved from 29.1: 70.9 to 34.3:65.57 and congestion reduced by 5.4% during the period. The average number of cases completed per judge per session increased from 30 to 50 cases.
• The Uganda Police Force weeded out 75,903 cases from the system representing about 69 % of the cases registered annually.
• The Court of Appeal for the first time held sittings outside Kampala- in Mbarara and Gulu, where it completed 150 criminal appeals in two months. The Court of Appeal will soon sit in Mbale and other regions to deal with its backlog.
• The Uganda Human Rights Commission completed 82 cases and 412 investigations.
• Lastly, the programme revived quality assurance in management of cases.
Because of the successes registered, the case backlog programme will be rolled out to the entire country. In the new programme we shall prioritize the following actions:
• Civil cases will be prioritized through heightened sessions and deployment of more judicial officers to deal with hot spots. The Judiciary is piloting land courts. Chief Magistrates have been deployed at Mengo and Nakawa to specifically handle land cases in a timely manner.
• The powers of Registrars in Civil and criminal cases will be increased to reduce the workload of judges in the High Court.
• Mediation and the small claims procedure will be rolled out throughout the country to expedite resolution of civil disputes. Likewise, a law on plea bargaining will be enacted to deal with criminal cases.
• In consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, the President will be petitioned to appoint acting judges under article 142(2) of the Constitution to deal with case backlog.
• The District Chain linked Committees will be strengthened to deal with case backlog in the districts. In April, 2011, JLOS in partnership with UNICEF strengthend the District Chain Linked Committees through skills development, training and mentoring to adopt a demand and a pro-poor person oriented approach to service delivery.
• The Police will receive additional resources to improve the training of investigators, expand community policing, enhance the use of forensic science and acquire a finger processing machine. Each of the 112 Police Stations will be given at least two dogs to fight crime especially in the rural areas.
• The sector aims to improve service delivery across the justice chain through prioritizing customer care to garner the support of the community in crime prevention and effective administration of justice. Consequently, all our programmes will target and robustly respond to the needs of the client. This is to be preceded by adoption of client charters and simplification of procedures and laws to make the legal and judicial system accessible to all, especially the marginalized.
• Furthermore, the Judiciary will introduce a toll free line to deal with complaints related to delays in the administration of justice and corruption.
• The sector will prioritize the use of information technology in case backlog reduction. With the help of information technology, the process of dispensation of justice can be made easier, fast , affordable and user friendly. An integrated data management system will be introduced to serve all the Criminal Justice Agencies and ensure timely processing and handling of cases by management. Registries at the Uganda Registration Service Bureau and the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration will be automated for improved service delivery.
• The sector will prioritize performance management across the justice chain to ensure value for money and deploy labor where it is most needed.
• Inspectorate Units in all the JLOS institutions will be expanded, retooled and mobilized to deal with indiscipline and quality assurance at all JLOS points.
• JLOS shall also promote legal aid to reach the lower echelons of society, who constitute the biggest JLOS constituency. Para- legals will be used to eliminate unnecessary detention of suspects, speed up processing of cases, diversion of young offenders, reduction of case backlog, reduction of the remand population and improvement in the equality of arms