The Principal Judge Dr Flavian Zeija has called for Justice, Law and Order Institutions to prioritize cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and have such matters heard expeditiously.
The institutions include: The directorate of Public Prosecutions- DPP, Uganda Prisons Services, Uganda Police Force, Uganda Law Society and United Nations Population Fund Activities UNFPA.
Zeija made the remarks while officiating at a High-Level Meeting with the Justice Law and Order institutions in Kampala on Friday which was aimed at gathering views on the successful implementation of Phase Five of the SGBV session supposed to start next week in various High Court Circuits and Chief Magistrates Courts.
The Judiciary started hearing such cases in sessions annually starting in 2018 which was phase one and phase four in 2021.
However, the Principal Judge says cases of SGBV should be prioritized because of their nature saying that when they take longer in the Court system without being determined to their logical conclusion, there is most likely to be a miscarriage of justice.
He noted that at times when a girl is raped or defiled when they are still teenagers and the case takes long to be heard and for instance, the victim gets old and gets married, it becomes very difficult to bring her to court to act as a witness
According to the Annual Crime and Traffic Safety Report, 2021, released by the Uganda Police on 18th May 2022, sex-related offences remain among the most rampant offences in Uganda.
The Police indicated that in the year 2021 alone, there were 14,570 defilement cases and 1,456 rape cases reported. Overall, sex-related offences reported were 16, 373. This according to the report, meant that sex-related offences as a category constituted the fourth most committed offences in Uganda in the year 2021.
But the Principal Judge says that for this particular phase they are going to conduct 14 sessions but only five of these will be in this financial quarter due to funding constraints. Asked how much funds are required, Zeija however did not have exact figures off head.
He explained that they will conduct High Court sessions at Tororo, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Nebbi and Bushenyi and two Chief Magistrates Court at Kayunga and Pader and the rest f the sessions will be conducted in the second quarter of this financial year.
Zeija added that each participating court is required to prepare a cause list of 50 cases and each session is expected to last for 45 days.
He asked all the Justice, Law and Order institutions to get ready and render all the necessary support for the success of the sessions which will start with a training of the judicial officers involved on August 11th and after that, the courts can draft their cause list.
On his part, Andrew Kizimula Mubiru the Director of Forensics in Uganda Police Force said that people need to be sensitized on what needs to be done if a case of SGBV happens such that they do not tamper with materials or crime scenes that would be of evidential value.