By Goodluck Musinguzi

Uganda’s outgoing Chief Justice Bart Katureebe was a quiet man to some yet a tough personality to some. He had a duty to perform as a Judicial Officer which could not please everyone. His appointment never attracted pomp like his retirement.

Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has been Deputy Chief Justice and automatically takes over in Acting capacity as Chief Justice. As Uganda heads to General Elections, Justice Alfonse Owiny will be in the Acting Capacity until he swears in the new head of state.

Justice Bart Katureebe left office after clocking 70 years. He handed over office in a low key event at his office attended by a few people.

“Since the President has not yet appointed my successor, the Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo will be acting…because I technically leave on Saturday June 20, at midnight,” a statement of the Judiciary quoted the outgoing CJ Katureebe as saying last Friday.

Bart Katureebe like his Deputy Presided over one Presidential Election petition that had them harshly judged by a section of the public.

Ugandans thought Justice Bart Katureebe would fight corruption in the Judiciary but unfortunately towards the end of his term Vision Group exposed court officials taking bribes. Some people say he was weak to crack the whip on lazy and corrupt Judicial officers.

He started the legal service career 45 years ago as a State Attorney in the chambers of Attorney General.

Out of the 45 years, he dedicated 36 of his time to public service where he served for eight years as State Attorney, 13 as minister/ MP and 15 years in the Judiciary with the last five as Chief Justice. He also spent some years in private practice as an advocate.


Since his assumption of Judiciary’s highest office, the Hon. Chief Justice, Bart M. Katureebe, has made a number of promises towards the transformation of the Judiciary into a more vibrant institution.

After five years down the road, Justice Katureebe has registered a number of tremendous achievements. The Judiciary Insider shares some of his key milestones.

Magisterial areas: The rationalisation of magisterial areas was successfully completed by a special taskforce of various Justice, Law and Order stakeholders who were coordinated by the Hon. Principal Judge, Yorokamu Bamwine.

The Hon. Chief Justice has since sent the proposal to have magisterial areas increased from 38 to 81 to the Minister of Justice, and the minister is expected to sign the instrument soon.

130 Judicial appointments/promotions, It was one of his key promises to engage other arms of the state to get more judicial officers appointed or promoted so that the courts can dispense justice to the people.

Indeed, the good engagement efforts of the Hon. Chief Justice have resulted into appointments/promotions of at least 130 judicial officers, right from Magistrate G1 to justices of the Supreme Court as follows.

12 appellate Justices appointed,President Museveni in September 2015, appointed 12 justices (five to Supreme Court and six justices to the Court of Appeal). 53 Judicial officers promoted.

In December 2015, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) appointed/promoted 53 judicial officers (21 deputy registrars, six assistant registrars, 24 chief magistrates and another seven principal and senior magistrates). 57 Magistrates G1 appointed.

JSC named 57 new Magistrates G1, and promotes one Magistrate G1 to chief magistrate in January 2016 Seven High Court Judges: President Museveni appointed seven new High Court judges in February 2016.

Taking evidence by audio-visual means: Guidelines in this regard were developed and signed off by the Hon. Chief Justice.

Support was also secured from UNICEF for the installation of closed circuit cameras that are connected to TV monitors at the High Court in Kampala, Fort Portal and Gulu to support the giving of evidence by sensitive witnesses through video link.

Similar equipment is installed in a child-friendly room at each of the courts to make them as comfortable as possible while giving evidence to a judge without having to face their molesters. Similar installations will be made in the High Court Circuits of Mbale, Mbarara, Arua, Masindi, and the new Family Court in Makindye.

Creation of Utilities and Standards Court: The specialised court located at the Kampala Chief Magistrates Court at Buganda Road was created to deal with cases related to wildlife (fauna and flora), water and electricity.

Plea Bargaining: The procedure that gives criminal offenders, who want to plead guilty, a chance to bargain for lighter sentences for not wasting resources and court’s time, gained momentum in 2015 and 2016, and has so far helped the disposal of 3,000 capital offenses in the various courts.

The procedure was rolled out to all the 13 High Court Circuits and all the major prisons in Uganda. It has also helped save Judiciary’s criminal case trial budget by at least 70 per cent. Plea Bargaining Rules were also developed and gazetted, and were rolled out countrywide by the Retired Hon. Principal Judge, Yorokamu Bamwine.

MoU with Pepperdine University: In October 2015, the Hon. Chief Justice, Bart M. Katureebe, led a delegation to Pepperdine University in Califonia, USA, to revise the 2008 MoU between the Judiciary and the Pepperdine.

The revised MoU, whose objective is to promote /the relationship between Pepperdine and the Uganda Judiciary, broadens the relationship to include Justice, Law and Order Sector actors.

It was, among other things, designed to improve technical support like capacity building in areas of Plea Bargaining, Mediation, Appellate Mediation, Internship Exchange Programmes, and Nootbar Fellow Programme.

Most of the activities in the MoU are ongoing and the country is benefiting.Inspectorate of Courts strengthened: In January this year, the Hon. Chief Justice appointed Supreme Court Justice Augustine Nshimye Ssebuturo the first Chief Inspector of Courts to head the revamped Inspectorate of Courts.

The move was to empower the Inspectorate to receive and investigate complaints of maladministration of justice against any staff of the Judiciary and all cadres of judicial officers, unlike the previous Inspectorate with limited mandate under a registrar.

The Inspectorate been conducting countrywide sensitisation campaigns to explain its role to court staff ahead of the inspections as well as promoting Judiciary’s image change agenda.

CCTV Cameras Installed in 15 Court Registries: During celebrations to mark the opening of the New Law Year, the Hon. The Chief Justice revealed that the Judiciary would install CCTV systems in several Court Registries as a way of increasing their monitoring and curbing corruption tendencies in courts.

The project has since been accomplished with support from DANIDA at a cost of Shs128 million. The CCTV cameras have since been installed in registries of the Kampala-based High Court Divisions of: Criminal, Anti-Corruption, Execution and Bailiffs, Land, Family, Civil and Commercial.

They are also installed in the Chief Magistrates’ Courts of Makindye, Nakawa, Buganda Road, Nabweru, LDC, Entebbe and Mengo. The system comes with a monitoring screen in the Registrar/Chief Magistrates chambers to enable the monitoring of activities by the junior staff at the registry.

More High Court Circuits created: In continuous efforts to promote access in the administration of justice by bringing services closer to the people, Hon. Katureebe in July 2016 issued the Judicature (Designation of High Court Circuits) Instrument reorganising the Circuits of the High Court from 13 to 20.

The instrument closed the Nakawa Circuit, but created new circuits in Mukono, Mpigi, Mubende, Iganga, Luwero, Hoima, Rukungiri, Moroto and Tororo, in additional to the original circuits of Jinja, Mbale, Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Arua, Masindi, Fort Portal, Kabale, Mbarara and Masaka (See area of coverage in table below).

Name of CircuitArea of Circuit 1.LuweroLuwero, Nakasongola and Nakaseke 2.LiraApach, Oyam, Dokolo, Amolatar, Lira, Kapyelebong, Otuke and Alebtong.3.MubendeKiboga, Mubende, Mityana and Kyankwanzi. 4.MpigiButambala, Gomba and Mpigi.

5.MasakaKalangala, Rakai, Sembabule, Masaka, Lyantonde, Kalungu, Bukomansim-bi and Lwengo.6.MbararaNtungamo, Bushenyi, Mbarara, Ibanda, Shema,Rubirizi, Isingiro, Buhwe-ju, Kiruhura and Mitooma.7.Fort PortalKasese, Bundibugyo, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo, Bunyangabo,Kabarole, Kyegegwa and Ntoroko.8.MasindiMasindi and Kiryandongo.

9.HoimaKagadi, Kibaale,Hoima,Kakumiro and Buliisa.10.AruaNebbi, Moyo, Adjumani, Yumbe, Zombo, Maracha, Koboko and Arua.11.GuluKitgum,Omoro,Pader, Amuru, Gulu and Patongo.12.SorotiAmuria, Serere, Katakwi, Kaberamaido, Kumi, Bukedea, Soroti and Ngora.

13.MbaleKapchorwa, Bukwo, Kween, Budaka, Pallisa,Sironko,Kibuuku,Bute-bo,Bududa, Manafwa,Mbale and Bulambuli.14. TororoTororo, Busia and Butaleja.15. JinjaKamuli, Bunyende and Jinja.16.IgangaBugiri, Kaliro, Namayingo, Iganga, Mayuge, Busembatia, Namutumba and Luuka.

17.MukonoBuikwe, Lugazi, Mukono and Kayunga.18.KabaleKisoro,Rubanda and Kabale.19.RukungiriRukungiri and Kanungu.20.MorotoKotido, Kaabong, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Abim, Amudat and Napak.

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