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Judges Call for Tighter Sanctions in Corruption Cases
Hon. Justice Dr. Bamwine, the Hon. Principal Judge

Judges and other Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) have called for the tightening of sanctions against the corrupt, including making asset recovery a major objective of corruption trials.

"There is need to make these processes very expensive for the corrupt. It is not enough sentencing someone convicted of corruption to 10 years in prison. They should pay back the money or we should go after their property," said the Principal Judge, Hon. Justice Dr. Yorokamu Bamwine. "These corrupt need to betaken back to their original status before they committed the corruption."

The PJ spoke during a half-day cluster meeting on efficient and effective disposal of corruption cases, organised by the Strengthening Uganda's Anti-Corruption Response Technical Advisory Facility (SUGAR-TAF) at Protea Hotel in Kampala.

SUGAR-TAF highlighted the role of the Judiciary in effective sanctions and asset recovery, followed by a judicial panel of discussion on the approaches, progress and opportunities for effective sanctions and asset recovery at the High Court's Anti-Corruption Division (ACD) and the Execution and Bailiffs Division(EBD) and the Court of Appeal (COA).

"Corruption remains one of the greatest challenges to economic and social development across the globe, diverting public resources to individual or private gain. It weakens state institutions, corrodes public trust, hinders development and security, and has also emerged as one of the sources of global terrorist financing," said Hon. Justice Dr Bamwine. 

"...more effective sanctions will inevitably push us to asset recovery, because it denies the corrupt the benefit of their criminality and restores scarce resources back into the public coffers."

Stakeholders called for law on Asset Management and Disposal and having in place professional Asset Managers who are accountable even to Parliament.

The meeting also took stock of progress towards effective and efficient disposal of corruption cases, effective sanctions and asset recovery. It also identified strategic priority areas for strengthening the above functions within COA, ACD and EBD.

Nine years following the establishment of ACD, the PJ says Judiciary's focus has grown wider to embrace COA and EBD, "because the economic and social urgency of corruption cases has to be shared across the entire Judiciary, if the intervention is to succeed". 

He equally supported a proposal to expand EBD, established five years ago by an administrative circular by the Principal Judge. "The Division should be properly gazetted and its jurisdiction widened to handle executions of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. It could also be responsible for assets management," said Hon.Justice Dr. Bamwine.

Participants included Justices: Hon. Justice Christopher Madrama (COA), Hon. Justice David Wangutusi (Head, Commercial Court), Hon. Justice Lawrence Gidudu (Head, ACD)and Hon. Justice Gadenya Paul Wolimbwa (Projects/EBD). Others participants were Ms Rachael Odoi-Musoke (JLOS-STA); Mr Musa Mudoi (JLOS-TA, Justice for Children); HW Isaac Muwata (Ag. Chief Registrar); and Registrars: HW Eriasa Omar Kisawuzi (EBD); HW Esta Nambayo (COA); HW Susan Kanyange (ACD) and HW Baker Rwatoro (EBD); among others.

Key Recommendations

  • The need for wider interactions beyond the judicial officers.
  • Consistent trainings for prosecutors and ACD staff.
  • Making the tracing of assets to form part of the investigations
  • The need to get rid of assessors in corruption trials
  • Letting corruption trials courts to first complete cases before the Constitutional Court considers any petitions arising out the trial court case.
  • Training of the staff of the EBD to be professional asset managers,who understand trusts.
  • Having registrars of integrity in EBD.
  • Creation of a separate account of the Court where people will be encouraged to voluntarily pay money to the account without recourse to EDB once a case is finalised and where money can be taken out quickly.

Posted 25th, June 2018
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