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Justice Fredrick Martin Ntende (c) in a group photo with Magistrates of Arua Magisterial Areas at Arua Court.

Arua high court circuit overwhelmed with case backlog

Arua, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Arua High Court Circuit comprising of 6 Magisterial Areas in West Nile has been overwhelmed with backlog of cases.

The cases mainly comprising of Civil, Criminal, Land and Miscellaneous causes accumulated within the COVID-19 lockdown period that started in March 2020.

According to reports presented to the Judiciary Committee on Case Backlog by Magistrates in the six Magisterial areas at Arua High Court today, the region has 70 cases under Arua which includes Arua, Maracha and Koboko pending disposal, 391 undisposed cases in Yumbe Chief Magistrates Court, 94 cases before Nebbi magisterial Area which covers Nebbi, Pakwach and Zombo districts while Moyo Magisterial Area which includes Moyo and Obongi has 33 cases in the backlog.

Daniel Lubowa, the Chief Magistrate greater Arua says the COVID-19 pandemic, insufficient human and lack of enough financial resources greatly contributed to accumulation of cases in his Magisterial area.

Meanwhile, Hillary Kiwanuka, the Grade One Magistrate for Yumbe says they have 391 backlog of cases which require another Grade One Magistrate to help in addition to having special sessions and support from Legal Aid to enable them manage the backlog.

According to Kiwanuka, the main causes of case backlog include absence of resident Lawyers in Yumbe and that most litigants fail to pay for hire of legal services from lawyers in Arua who are largely expensive, hence delaying court processes.

Robert Mukanza, the acting Chief Magistrate for Nebbi which includes Pakwach and Zombo says most of the backlog of cases in the area are a result of Litigants failing to respond to summons and delays in securing letters of administration by relatives of deceased Litigants.

However according to Swaleh Asiku, the Grade One Magistrate for Moyo, the challenge of lack of language interpreters especially in Obongi district where Reli, Gimara and Aliba dialects are spoken has made many cases to drag on.

But in his response to managing the cases in the backlog, Justice Fredrick Martin Ntende, the Vice Chairman of Case Backlog at the Judiciary said hard and soft wares of new technologies will be availed in all courts to help in research and access to materials in quick disposal of cases. Justice Ntende however, urged the Magistrates to embrace online filing of cases using the new Court system instead of waiting for materials to handle them.

According to the reports presented to the Case Backlog Committee, only Pakwach Grade One Magistrate Court managed to clear its case backlog of over 60 cases since a new Magistrate was posted there a year ago. The case backlog committee at the Judiciary currently serving its second term was formed to establish causes of case backlog and fast track their disposal.

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