April 24, 2013

Legal Committee Throws Out Otafire Over New Judges

 Minister of justice Hon. Kahinda Otafiire
Minister of justice Hon. Kahinda Otafiire

Kahinda Otafire, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, has upto Friday 10:00 am to provide a substantive response as to why the country still has no judges.

The Legal and Parliamentary committee had declined to consider the Justice Ministry’s budget estimate until they present a substantive report on the judges’ appointment status.

The secretary to the Judiciary Dorcus Okalanyi highlighted the lack of judges which is hampering the execution of the judiciary mandate. The Supreme Court only has four out of eleven judges; Court of Appeal has five out of 15 Judges and the High Court needs an additional 41 judges.

Okalanyi says if their appointment is to be confirmed the Judiciary needs 24.7 billion shillings. However, this does not include the expected salary enhancement as promised by President Yoweri Museveni during the NRM celebrations in Kasese this year.

The Justice ministry led by Otafire then said that the judicial commission had submitted the names to the President and are still waiting for his response before the names are forwarded to Parliament for approval.

Otafire said after the submissions, he cannot do much because that is where his role stops. Fox Odoi ,MP West Budama, asked the minister and his officials to leave the committee and return when their house is in order.
Bukhooli North MP Steven Baka then proposed a motion to decline the budget estimate paper of the judiciary but the chairman Tashobya Steven suggested that Otafire be given up to Friday this week.

He thus outlined that Minister Otafire should elaborate on Friday the stand on the appointment of judges at all levels, administration of Justice Bill, the JLOS house construction and the establishment of the judicial officers such as magistrates and chief magistrates.

They also wanted to know the status of case backlog and how far the implementation of the presidential pledge to increase judicial officers’ salaries has reached.

Hamson Obua MP Ajuri county MP quoted Article 142 of the constitution which talks about the appointment of judicial officers and asked how the committee can help them further. He concluded that the status of the judiciary is ill and is suffering from political marginalization.

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