WEST NILE. The principal judge of Uganda, Justice Flavian Zeija has identified the location of court premises far from each other as a major factor obstructing people’s quest in accessing justice in the West Nile region.
As a result, he called upon local governments in the region to avail land so that more court premises are established, emphasizing that establishing more of the courts in the region will bring justice closer to the ordinary person.
“The biggest challenge is that our Courts are far apart and the litigants travel long distances to access justice. And wherever our courts are located, you’ll find that people travel more than 60 kilometres. That means we need to plan and make sure that we spread our courts to different places,” he said.
Justice Zeija was speaking in Arua on Tuesday after a leg of inspection of court premises across the West Nile region.
He explained that the main purposes for his inspection was to identify challenges and gaps in courts which will help in planning processes.
Justice Zeija disclosed that Maracha district had already availed land for construction of courts in relation to the request.
Responding to the general state of the structures, he disclosed that some of the existing court facilities in Koboko, Yumbe and Moyo districts were dilapidated and in dire need of renovation.
The principal judge also noted shoddy works by the contractor in Koboko district and said steps will be taken for punitive action in line with the law.
“The company that contracted the building is already blacklisted and we will look internally on who were the supervisors and engineers and ask them about why they did shoddy work so that we take remedial action in terms of punishment which will be based on the findings,” Zeija stated.
He informed the region that due to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic which has affected hearing of cases, the government was going to establish virtual methods of court proceedings within the year 2020 so as to fight the backlog.
He, however, appealed to the media to uncover cases of absenteeism of judicial officers so that appropriate actions can be taken against them.
Justice Zeija also identified inadequate manpower particularly with the number of Grade One Magistrates as another major factor affecting timely delivery of justice to the public, a matter he said would be addressed by the government too.
All newly created districts in the West Nile including Terego, Madi Okollo, Obongi are currently accessing courts in their former entities.