Members of the Uganda Law Society have petitioned Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga over what they call the failures and the malaise of the judiciary and the legal profession.
The petition which was presented by retired Supreme Court Judge George Kanyeihamba requests that a commission of inquiry be instituted as a matter of urgency to look into the causes of bad vices like corruption and unethical conduct by judicial officers.
The petition also seeks to enhance the remuneration and benefits of judicial officers both in service and in retirement and to fully constitute the courts of judicature by appointing judges to fill the gaps at all levels.
According to Judiciary spokesperson Erias Kisawuzi, there are more than 80 vacancies to be filled in the judiciary if the organ is to work efficiently and to clear the backlog of cases.
Kagole Kivumbi, the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission, a body in charge of appointment of Judges, says the process is still ongoing. He said that President Yoweri Museveni, who appoints after the commission sends a list of nominees to him, has not yet appointed but says names were sent to him.
The lawyers also want government to provide appropriate accommodation for the Courts of Judicature saying that they are located in unsuitable premises and the costs of renting some of them are very high.
The petition also asks government to issue guidelines to all government agencies to respect court decisions and stop unlawful interference with the execution of court judgments and orders.
The petition points out the Uganda Police Force, Internal Security Organization and the State House as the organisations or offices that undermine the independence of the Judiciary and demand that government imposes sanctions on them.
The petitioners also want government to adopt and fast track the enactment of Justice James Ogoola’s proposed Administration of Justice Bill. The bill which is about the remuneration, pension and general conduct of the Courts of Judicature was discussed and adopted by the judges at the extra ordinary general meeting of the members of the Uganda Law society.
Kanyeihamba told journalists that Kadaga assured him that parliament will consider the petition with the urgency that it requires and that he hopes the House will be able to put pressure on government to urgently address these issues.
Kanyeihamba said that it is urgent that the judiciary is investigated and strengthened. He says that a commission of inquiry, which should be composed of international Judges from the Commonwealth, will be able to identify the challenges that are crippling the judiciary.