The special sessions are scheduled to commence on today, Monday, February 24 and in this pilot phase, six of the sessions will be held at the Land Division in Kampala – targeting 120 cases, and five other sessions will be held at the Mukono, Mbale, Masaka, Mpigi, Kabale and Jinja High Courts according to the acting Judiciary Chief Registrar, Tom Chemutai.
“Each judicial officer has been assigned 20 cases to dispose of within 60 days. Our projection is that each land case can be concluded in three days,” Chemutai said in a statement.
The World Bank through its Competitiveness Enterprise Development Project and the Government of Uganda will jointly fund the sessions.
Priority, according to the judiciary has been given to cases that have been in the court system for more than two years (backlogged cases) and those affecting implementation of key government projects, such as road construction.
The Chief Justice, Bart M. Katureebe, while meeting officials from World Bank in Kampala recently welcomed the intervention.
“It has the potential of expediting resolution of land cases as well as attracting future funding to address the land adjudication question in a more substantive manner,” Katureebe said recently.
The Judiciary faces a perennial problem of case backlog and the problem is more severe inland justice where 52 percent of the cases are more than two years old in the courts.
At the Land Division, there are 11,952 cases pending in the court system, and of these at least half are backlog.
The acting Judiciary Chief Registrar explained that backlog in the land cases is mainly a result of a shortage of judicial officers, low levels of automation in processing cases and inadequate resources.
Other reasons he said, include judicial officers’ lack of transport to visit the land in dispute, increased filing of cases fueled by a growing economy and pressure on economic resources particularly land.
“Failure to resolve land disputes has cost the country a lot of money in delayed implementation of infrastructural projects. Investment projects have equally been affected by slow land adjudication, making Uganda a high-cost investment destination,” Chemutai said.
He noted that the second phase of the project will be extended to land matters in other parts of the country, including cases in the Magistrate Courts.