October 03, 2023

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Speech by the Ambassador of the European Union at the 27th Annual JLOS Review

H.E Jan Sadek (right), the Ambassador of the European Union to Uganda at the 27th Annual JLOS Review (PHOTO: JLOS) H.E Jan Sadek (right), the Ambassador of the European Union to Uganda at the 27th Annual JLOS Review (PHOTO: JLOS)

His Lordship the Honourable Chief Justice

Honourable Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs

Honourable Minister of Internal Affairs

Honourable Minister of Local Government

Honourable Attorney General

Honourable Minister of State for Internal Affairs

Honourable Justices and Judges of the Courts of Judicature

Director of Public Prosecutions

Excellencies Ambassadors and Heads of Diplomatic Missions present

Honourable Members of Parliament

Chairpersons of Constitutional Commissions

Solicitor General

Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Permanent Secretaries of Ministries present and Secretaries of Commissions present

Inspector General of Police

Commissioner General of Prisons

Representatives of Development Partners

Representatives of Civil Society

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honoured to deliver these remarks on behalf of the Access to Justice Development Partners Group.

My Lord, today’s review is yet another valuable opportunity for us to jointly reflect on the performance of the Access to Justice Sub-programme in its mission to empower people, build trust and uphold rights.

When I took up my tour of duty recently, I was briefed on the good collaboration between the Access to Justice Development Partners Group and the Government, and its institutions over the years. Therefore, I convey our sincere gratefulness for the opportunity afforded to us to once again engage constructively.

My Lord, there were several significant achievements registered during the period under review and I now would like to highlight a few.

Building on progress in past years, there is now a one-stop frontline service point in 83% of the districts which is contributing to increased access to justice and satisfaction by the population.

In terms of infrastructure, the development partners would also like to laud the start of the construction of the JLOS house which will be a landmark building in Kampala, and which will lead to closer collaboration amongst the Access to Justice Sub-programme actors and ultimately improved service delivery to citizens.   

We also positively note an increased percentage in case disposal rates, underpinned by disposal of a substantial number of cases especially in lower courts, and in the Anti-Corruption Court Division. Complementing these achievements was high conviction rates that demonstrated increased efficiency and competences at various phases of the criminal justice chain.

In addition, my Lord, we note the increased strengthening of business registries and the accelerated pace of automation of business processes within the Access to Justice Sub-programme institutions. The ability of the different systems to ‘speak’ and connect to each other will result in improved efficiency in the delivery of justice, law and order services thereby building more trust and confidence of users.

The report also highlights a significant drop in crime rates. We hope that this positive trend will continue.

I would like to turn now to some areas which deserve further discussions and efforts.

Although there are initiatives, the absence of a nationally funded legal aid scheme remains a significant impediment to access to justice, in particular for the poor and vulnerable persons. With the end of the Democratic Governance Facility that was providing legal aid to some 90,000 Ugandans, we would like to reiterate our previous calls for a nationally funded legal aid scheme to support access to justice and promote the right to a fair hearing enshrined in the Constitution.

As development partners, we would like to express our continued commitment to this important aspect of access to justice. In this regard, we would also like to stress the importance of the National Legal Aid Bill which we hope will be enacted soon. 

My Lord, the annual report reveals that suspects spend a considerable period of time on remand, and that congestion in prisons and remand homes is acute – a situation that has been worsening in successive years. A concerted action and reforms are needed to address these challenges.

My Lord, distinguished guests, case backlog remains a significant issue. Although some gains are noted, the problem persists thereby eroding trust and impeding access to justice, law and order services. In particular, the Development Partners would like to renew their call for an expeditious disposal of backlogged cases, in particular a speedy trial of cases of sexual and gender-based violence and juvenile cases.   

My Lord, I would like to make some observations on Outcome 3 which provides account of interventions undertaken to strengthen compliance with the bill of rights and tackle corruption within the Sub-programme institutions.

Progress on Outcome 3 has historically been the most mixed and this is the same for the period under review.

My Lord, as stated in the report, and I quote “Torture consistently remains the most reported human rights violation over the years, although with a declining numerical count compared to the baseline year 2016/17[1]. The second most reported violation is denial of personal liberty. In this regard, we would like to call for perpetrators of human rights violations including those related to the November 2020 events to be held to account and ensure justice for victims. In addition, we would like to emphasise the urgency for finalisation and implementation of the National Action Plan on Human Rights, a process that in our view, has stalled.     

We also note with concern reports about a resurgence of irregular arrests. We hope that implementation of the recent declaration of Honourable Minister of Internal Affairs to end arrests before investigations are complete will curb violations of the rights of suspects.

My Lord, and as I concluded, we would like to reiterate that the effective and close collaboration between the Access to Justice Sub-programme and the Administration of Justice Programme is essential. The participation of the leadership of both programmes in this review show your commitment to this collaboration. 

With these remarks, I wish you fruitful deliberations during the course of the review.

Thank you for your kind attention!



Speech delivered at the 27th Annual JLOS Review on 6th December 2022 at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Kampala


[1] Access to Justice Sub-programme Annual Report 2021/2022, P.110

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Last modified on Sunday, 17 September 2023 11:56