Uganda: Follow Up Cases in Court, Magistrate Tells Residents


Moroto — Residents of Karamoja sub-region have been advised to always follow up their cases if they do not want them to be dismissed for lack of interest in prosecution.

The call was made by the Moroto Grade One Magistrate, Mr Christopher Opit, on Friday during a judicial outreach programme at Katikekile Sub-county near Moroto Town.

“We are having challenges with criminal matters as we are dismissing majority of them because you don’t follow them in court to their logical conclusion,” magistrate Opit urged the local residents.

He added: “Your leaders say once you people report a matter to police, you think that is the end of it and you don’t follow it and you testify in court. That is forcing us to dismiss many of such cases.”

Earlier last week, this reporter camped in the Chief Magistrate’s court headed by Mr Robert Imalingat and indeed a number of cases were dismissed due to lack of interest by the complainants after several months of mention.

Explaining why locals are reluctant to follow up their cases, magistrate Opit said the locals have a belief that once they report a case to police, their work is done as they don’t follow through and testify.

Other reasons that magistrate Opit pointed out were long distances to court which makes the complainants lazy to regularly come to court, lack of reliable transport means in the area and the nomadism culture that makes them to always be on the move.

Weighing-in on the same challenge, Ms Sydey Etima-Ojara, an official from Freedom House and Ms Rosabella Ntanzi, the project officer, rights and rule of law programme at Foundation for Human Rights Initiative both said there is need to sensitise the residents on the importance of following up their cases.

Ms Ojara added that in alternative, the locals should embrace the Alternative Dispute Resolution, which will see some of the disputes settled out of court.

Similarly, Mr Ronald Sekagya, an official from the Judicial Service Commission, one of the facilitators at the same judicial outreach, advised the residents to always follow up their cases if they are to get justice.

Mr Anthony Apatodo, an area councillor, however, explained that once they arrest a suspected offender, they investigate the alleged offence (s) and once they gather “sufficient” evidence against them, then they hand over to the police and court for prosecution.

“We wonder why when we get evidence against suspects, we again see them being released by courts instead of being convicted,” he said.

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Publish date : 2019-04-01 15:12:21

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