- The issue: Unethical Judicial officers
- Our view: Parliament should expedite this legislation not only to ease payment for retiring judicial officers, but also to enhance delivery of justice.
A report on Courts Inspection presented at a stakeholders meeting in Kampala on Monday revealed that judicial officers, who are approaching retirement, often indulge in unethical behaviour to acquire wealth in order to have a comfortable life after service.
This behaviour includes receiving inducements in order to write favourable judgements to the paying litigants. On the other hand, litigants who don’t pay such inducements either lose cases or their cases are not listed for hearing.
This unethical practice must be condemned because it turns deserving litigants, who are supposed to be beneficiaries of justice, into victims of injustice.
However, condemning the behaviour without looking at the material causes that drive judicial officers into these corruption tendencies would be unreasonable.
Speaking at the launch of the report, the Chief Registrar of Courts said the retiring judicial officers are tempted into unethical practices in order to enjoy a comfortable life after retirement because their pension is very little and it does not even come in time.
The government must address the problem of the Judiciary squarely. Many judicial officers, especially judges and magistrates, have retired, but take ages to be paid their little pension and other paltry benefits. Others have even died while waiting to receive their first pension. A fresh case is of former High Court judge Gideon Tinyinondi, who died two months ago without receiving a single penny of his pension, 10 years after he retired from judicial service.
Today, a retired civil servant can hardly get their pension without paying hefty bribes to the Pension officials. Without bribe, a retired civil servant may die without getting their pension, the reason probably many judicial officers don’t get their pension because they are reluctant to bribe the Pension mercenaries.
This problem would be mitigated if the Judiciary Administration Bill was passed by Parliament because it contains clauses to ensure retiring judicial officers leave with their full benefits. This Bill has been pending in Parliament for ages simply because the issue of judicial officers’ payment has not been sorted. Parliament should expedite this legislation not only to ease payment for retiring judicial officers, but also to enhance delivery of justice.
It is something that is well within the government means and authority to achieve. However, government should not only address the plight of the judicial officers but also of other retiring civil servants to enable them get their pension in time and lead a comfortable life they worked for.