During the recent judges conference in Kampala, the Ugandan public was reminded about the same twin problems of underfunding and shortage of judicial officers as the cause for the perennial case backlog in our courts. The Chief Justice asked for the intervention of the Executive by way of more funds and more recruitment of judicial officers to resolve the problem.
In response, President Museveni said the Judiciary was not one of the current priorities of his government and would, therefore, not give in to the requests. Recall that the President did sign off the appointment of more than 10 new High Court judges last year. However, there was nothing in the CJ’s remarks to show the results of that move.
The problems of the Judiciary go beyond the two resource issues and it is time Ugandans have a serious conversation about the Judiciary they deserve.
The Judiciary that the colonial state left in Uganda at independence in 1962 was advanced for Uganda which was then and is still essentially a subsistence peasant economy and high illiteracy level. It was, therefore, not going to work regardless of how well funded, how talented and how hardworking its local actors are.
The Judiciary that we inherited from England, was a post-Industrial revolution justice system and the result of 1,000 years of legal evolution through different epochs of English history. Uganda is not yet there.