By Ruth Anderah & Samuel Ssebuliba
Judicial officers have unanimously resolved to end their strike and return to work to give government time to implement their salary increment proposals.
According to the Uganda Judicial Officers’ Association president Godfrey Kaweesa, the members decided to suspend their strike to a later date in case government does not implement its promises to improve their working conditions.
Kaweesa reveals that the salary enhancements for judicial officers are expected by November 2017 as other welfare demands including cars, office equipment and security are being worked on.
He says they resume work tomorrow but have given government upto December 11th to have all their concerns addressed.
In a related development, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Gen. Kahinda Otaffire has informed the judicial officers that the Judiciary and Administration Bill will be tabled before parliament on Friday this week for discussion.
Earlier, the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has applauded judicial officers for their boldness to take an unprecedented action of laying down their tools in protest of the continued marginalization of justice in relation to the other 2 arms of govt.
Katureebe has informed a gathering of judicial officers including judges, magistrates and registrars and Justice Minister Kahinda Otaffire at the High Court this morning that their 2-week strike has proved a point that enriching working and personal conditions of judicial officers is paramount hence a commitment from government to address these issues.
The CJ has also decried some forces in the other 2 arms of government; cabinet and parliament which frustrate the judiciary’s demands and unfairly treat it with low budgetary allocations.
He has however reminded judicial officers of the pain felt by the public to whom they owe this judicial power and called upon all Judges and magistrates to return to work as their leaders to continue engaging cabinet and parliament on their demands.
The judiciary has been asked to consider expeditious means of administering justice now that they have called off their strike to reduce the overcrowding in prisons.
According to Frank Baine the prisons services spokesperson, they have twenty nine thousand inmates on remand across the country and out of these, at least ten thousand should have appeared in courts for bail application and hearing.
Speaking to KFM earlier today, Dr.Livingston Ssewanyana the Executive Director Foundation for Human Rights Initiative said the two-week strike by judicial officers has increased the pre-trial population from 52% to about 60%.
He describes this as a serious crisis that must be urgently addressed to clear pending cases.