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PJ Concludes the Tour of Masaka High Court Circuit

At the close of business on Thursday March 18, 2021, the Principal Judge, Hon. Justice Dr Flavian Zeija, had inspected a total of 22 Courts under the Masaka High Court circuit. He conducted the tours hand-in-hand with the Chief Registrar, HW Sarah Langa Siu.

In all the courts visited, common challenges were registered, ranging from absence of state prosecutors, unreliable power and water supply, inappropriate court buildings, understaffing and lack of transport facilities. 

The inspections included taking a ferry to Kalangala to access the Kalangala Chief Magistrate Court. 

The Kalangala court is manned by a lone Magistrate Grade One, HW Daniel Epobu, yet it serves more than80 islands that can only be accessed by either using a canoe or speedboats. 

From Kalangala, the two officials proceeded to inspect Masaka High Court, Chief Magistrate and Municipal Courts, where the Masaka Resident Judge received them; Hon. Lady Justice Victoria N. Katamba, Deputy Registrar; HW Agnes Nkonge, Chief Magistrate; HW Yeteise Charles and Magistrates Grade One; HW Ziraba Arthur and HW Christine Nantege. 

In his brief to the visiting team, HW Yeteise stressed the need to provide private means of transport to the magistrate in Kalangala to salvage his life while serving on the island. "Kalangala Court requires marine vessels for transport. Our Magistrate travels in boats sailed by former convicts and litigants before him," he said. 

He also decried the understaffing in the region, adding that he care-takes all the four chief magisterial courts, covering more than 21 operational magistrate courts. He thus reported a gap of four Chief Magistrates and 10 magistrate Grade Ones to serve the region. 

Hon. Lady Justice Katamba, on her part, extended gratitude to the PJ and CR for their encouraging visits and support, saying: "these visits bring to light areas of improvement."

She reported that the court was in the process of conducting a physical file count in a bid to harmonize the digital record.

Several challenges were reported to include lack of storage space for exhibit store and archives, wiring problems, water and toilet system-related challenges. 

Hon. Justice Dr Zeija decried recurring challenges that are reported over time without getting solutions. "People on the ground are asking for things, and we are not following up as administration. That's why we agreed that the CR would keep a log of these things (challenges or requests), and we review progress on dealing with them periodically," the PJ said. 

He decided to conduct the countrywide tours to give the administrators a proper picture of the conditions of the courts they plan for. 

The PJ also emphasized that the requests will be reviewed periodically, and feedback is given.

HW Langa equally encouraged the Judicial Officers to enhance their computer skills by typesetting their judgments which she said would, in turn, increase their computer skills. "We encourage you to type your judgments, this expedites the process, and in turn, we won’t keep our clients waiting for long," the CR said. 

She also implored the officers to adopt many best practices in administering the courts. These included conducting monthly meetings, quarterly DCC meetings, constituting finance committees and sensitizing court users.

The two officials called upon all Judicial Officers to submit recommendations to PJ and CR's office on how to best deal with the issue of processing bail refunds.

Posted 19th, March 2021
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