ARUA. The members of judicial service commission (JSC) of Uganda have expressed concerns over the silence of the West Nile region towards the conduct and activities of judicial officers.

The commissioner’s concerns emanate from the fact that whereas other regions have put up a considerable number of complaints from the public towards judicial officers, the West Nile on the contrary has remained silent casting a doubt on whether the silence is due to efficiency or ignorance of the public to report about errand officers.

The members while addressing different stake holders in Arua asked the public to contribute to the process of strengthening the justice system through reporting promptly any irregularities by judicial officers.

“Many members of the public think the Judiciary system is something farfetched but we are here to tell them that although a magistrate may be powerful in the court room, they (judicial officers) are there to serve you (public)” Ms Norah Winy Matovu, the commission head of disciplinary said during a press briefing in Arua on Tuesday.

Ms Matovu said the commission had set a two-day camp in the district in a bid to try to reach the public. The commission has also set up a complaints box at the office of the resident district commissioner (RDC) as well as a toll free line 0800100222/1 to try to push the public to report any breach by Judicial officers.

The JSC, a constitutional body established under article 146 of the 1995 constitution of Uganda has powers among others to facilitate and improve efficiency and effectiveness of justice administration in the country through receiving and processing people’s recommendations and complaints. The body also advises government on ways to improve justice administration.

However, despite the concerns, local leaders complained of excessive delays in court proceedings and a limited number of officers assigned to the region.

technical wing

“A few years back, the chief justice came here and promised that with the availability of funds, the region would be added another judge, but to date even the chief magistrate has to rotate between Nebbi and the large Arua district” Mr Peter Diebele, the resident district commissioner of Arua noted.

A bitter speaking Dibele also expressed disappointment over the transfer of Justice Steven Mubiru, the Arua resident judge who he hailed for restoring order at the court; He insisted Justice Mubiru needed more time to further improve the Arua court.

Mr Sam Wadri Nyakua, the LC V chairman complained over the unnecessary delay of sensitive matters on land that has pushed some communities into mob justice and killings. He said the manner and ease with which some “hard core criminals” were being released was disturbing to them as local authorities

Dr Laban Kirya, the deputy registrar of the commission appealed to the members of public to use the new innovations of plea bargaining, mediation and the small claims procedure for civil suits amounting to not more than 10 million shillings so as to shorten the court processes. He warned the public against negotiating cases of defilement outside of court which he said is prohibited by the law

Ms Rosemary Nyakikongoro, a member of the commission said the public should demand for more judicial officers so as to improve efficiency and reduce case backlog.