Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has promised the Judiciary of a bright future as he prepares for his retirement in September next year. Katureebe was on March 5, 2015 appointed Chief Justice by President Yoweri Museveni, ending a two-year vacuum at the helm of the Judiciary.
He was 64 years at the time.
“I think I have tried my best in the past year. Of course sometimes one’s best is not good enough for everyone. This will be my last year in this office, God willing,” he said, during the closure of the 21st Annual Judges Conference at Kampala Serena Hotel last Thursday.
The Constitution provides that a judge of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal/ Constitutional Court retires at 70 years, while those of the High Court retire at 65. Katureebe outlined what he expects to do before he retires.
“I intend to do my best to champion the goals of the Judiciary, negotiate with whoever it takes to negotiate for better terms, for more recruitment of judicial officers, for the construction of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and Judiciary headquarters and other things. All I need is your support,” he said.
He also called for unity of purpose as they move forward.
“So I hope we shall move together. Let us achieve what we can and also do what we are mandated to do. All of us should aim at doing what we can with what we have. It will probably not be all the time that we have everything that we need but let us get the little (first) before we fight for more,” he said.
Katureebe told the judges, who included his deputy, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo and Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine, that there is a lot of goodwill out there which they can exploit if they show unity of purpose and work together.
“There is a lot of goodwill with our development partners, there is a lot of goodwill even in Government and there is a lot of goodwill even in Parliament. I was encouraged by the meetings I had with the budget committee of Parliament and members of the legal and parliamentary committee and the Speaker,” he said.
The conference adopted
Several resolutions that included judicial officers adhering to the guidelines on visiting the locus (the place where something is alleged to have occurred) before making any decisions on land matters. They resolved to advocate the enhancement of the terms and conditions of service for judicial officers and no judicial staff commensurate with their judicial function as a separate arm of government.
They also resolved that alternative sanctions should be developed to help in the disciplining of judges other than dismissal and remedies be provided to affected judicial officers whose integrity is impugned as a result of malicious and ill-intentioned allegations.
They asked the Judicial Service Commission to expedite the hearing of complaints against judicial officers and Judiciary to develop guidelines on social media usage for judicial officers.
“We should also ensure that an institutional client charter for the Judiciary is developed and popularized. Registrars should also deal with all interlocutory matters and the main suits be handled by Judges,” they resolved.