Parliament has approved an additional Shs 31.4 billion for the judiciary to among others; cater for the recruitment of judicial officers and procurement of vehicles.
This followed the adoption of a report on the judiciary policy statement by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee during plenary chaired by the deputy speaker, Jacob Oulanyah.
The report was tabled by the committee chairperson and West Budama South MP, Jacob Oboth-Oboth. The judiciary is to receive Shs 151.5 billion in FY 2019/2020 compared to the Shs 127.8 allocated this financial year.
The additional Shs 20 billion was provided under the development budget to cater for the construction of the Supreme court and Court of Appeal premises. An additional Shs 1.9 billion was also provided to cater for wage shortfalls experienced in FY 2018/2019.
According to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, the additional funding doesn’t cater for different strategic areas in the judiciary.
"The judiciary is faced with manpower challenges with staffing levels at 55%. This has put a lot of workload and caseload on the existing man power. Judiciary has planned a recruitment of 100 judicial officers. They include 20 chief magistrates, 49 Grade One magistrates and 31 for appellant court and High court in order to reduce case backlogs. However, these funds are not provided in the budget estimates. In this regard Shs 9 billion is required to recruit 100 judicial officers over the medium term,’’ reads part of the approved committee report.
Oboth recommended that the judiciary wage bill be adjusted by providing an additional Shs 4.42 billion in FY 2019/2020 to enable recruitment of 50 judicial officers in an effort to reduce case backlog.
He however, noted that 50 per cent of the additional staff should be High court judges. Also approved is an additional Shs 10 billion out of the required Shs 20 billion to help the judiciary to clear part of an estimated at 40,251 cases backlog.
"This is high and hence the need for resources to clear cases that are 3 years and older from the system through the support to sessions and capacity building,’’ reads the committee report.
The judiciary is to also get an additional Shs 2 billion to formalize Local Council courts as one of the measures to address the case backlog. This follows the election of new Local Council officials and on-going re-establishment of local council courts. Parliament also approved an additional Shs 10 billion out of the required Shs 62.1 billion for the judiciary to procure vehicles to improve access to justice especially for land cases.
Oboth informed parliament that the judiciary is challenged in the area of land adjudication characterised by delays, failure to visit the locus, case mismanagement and integrity concerns. He said the institution is expected to fast track land cases where government has an interest, which raises capacity issues.
The judiciary is also to receive another Shs 5 billion to support innovation in case management.