News and Views

Uganda to host Commonwealth meeting for judges and magistrates

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By Anne Mugisa and Norah Mutesi

Uganda is to host another Commonwealth meeting, this time for judges and Magistrates. The meeting is slated for September 10 to 15 this year, according to Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki.

This will be the first time for Uganda is hosting the meeting of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA). According to Odoki, it will be a precursor to Uganda’s Golden Jubilee independence celebrations.

He told journalists Friday that the judicial officers will meet to examine the delivery of justice in the member countries in line with the fundamental Commonwealth values. These, he said, are democracy, good governance, accountability and gender parity.

The Chief Justice made the announcement at a press conference held at the High Court Building in Kampala.

The Commonwealth meeting will be hosted at the Speke Resort Munyonyo, Odoki said and appealed to members of the public to exercise restraint during that period and not scare the visitors.

The veteran judge said that the meeting will among others discuss tackling the legacy of corruption, improving equal justice, gender issues, justice for children in conflict areas and judicial independence.

The meeting under the theme: Justice for Everyone: Myth or reality, according to Odoki will explore solutions to make justice a reality for everyone.

He said that there are some reasons that hinder some sections of society from accessing justice and these must be addressed.

At least 500 delegates are expected to attend the meeting which takes place every three years and is expected to consume about sh3.5bn.  “Their coming here is a sign of confidence in Uganda. This shows the respect that the other judiciaries have for Uganda.”

Justice Odoki said that the Judiciary has tried to improve justice delivery in the country by opening courts across the country so the marginalized can access it.

He said that it has also segregated the courts into specialized divisions like the land, family and others so that specific issues can be addressed without them being entangled with others.

“This process of segregating and reinforcing the weak areas will ensure easier access,” Odoki said.

“We have also put in place justice centres where people can go for help. Other innovations we intend to put in place include establishment of small claims procedure. It will be like a debt collection court, where there will be limited lawyers and people can go to solve simple debt issues.”

He said that the law intends that justice is accessible for all but the disparity is brought about by the lack of equality between the rich who can afford and the poor who cannot.

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