Judiciary launches Hoima High Court Circuit amidst case backlog

The judiciary has opened up a high court circuit in Hoima bringing the number of high courts in Bunyoro sub-region to two.

The court was launched on Tuesday by the Principal Judge, Flavian Zeija at its premises in Kijungu cell, Hoima city.

Zeija said the creation of the High Court was necessitated by the need to reduce the distance people especially those with capital offences have been traveling to the neighbouring Masindi district to access justice.

He said it was also meant to reduce the case backlog at Masindi high court.

The operationalised Court circuit is to have 8 divisions namely; Anti Corruption Division, Civil Division, Commercial Division, Criminal Division, Execution and Bailiffs Division, Family Division, International Crimes Division and Land Division.

The High Court Circuit under the Resident Judge Jessy Byaruhanga Rugyema is to serve the districts of Kagadi, Kibaale, Hoima, Kikuube and Buliisa.

Byaruhanga said the Bunyoro region has a history of delayed justice and yet 60% of the court cases citing land grabbing, government land acquisition and contractors need urgent attention.

He revealed that the new court will give first priority to the cases that have been in court for a long time when it begins hearing the cases.

”We are determined to reduce the case backlog to at least in one year.  People with such cases that have taken long to be disposed of must bring the file numbers to be considered first,” Byaruhanga said.

Hoima City Mayor, Brian Kaboyo, applauded the judiciary for opening up a high court in the area that he said will reduce the cost of accessing justice.

He revealed that the city has offered one acre piece of land in Buhanika Sub County and two others in Nyarugabu for the construction of the court buildings in order to extend the court services nearer to the people.

Zeija also commended the good relationship between the political leaders and the judiciary and authorised the transfer of case files that were reported by the people in Hoima from Masindi high court to the new court.

The principle Judge warned the judiciary team at Hoima high court to desist from corruption and advised them to work as a team valuing time and material resources so that they can observe the principle of speedy trial.

Aaron Baryabanza, who represented the Uganda law society at the launch, advised the legal officers and litigants to prioritise the alternative grievance solving mechanism like mediation before taking cases to courts in order to save time and money.

“Utilise the Legal Aid Project in Masindi office if you don’t have resources to hire a lawyer. We shall assign you one for free.” Baryabanza said.

Zeija assured that recruitments to fill the vacant positions in the judiciary will continue and also encouraged alternative case resolutions like using religious, political leaders and influencers to fight case backlog.

Peter Banura, the Kikuube district chairman is optimistic that this will help solve the problem of land grabbing that is ravaging the district and reduce time and resources being wasted in seeking justice from Masindi high court.  

Masindi has been the only high court in Bunyoro sub-region and has been serving the eight districts in the region.

According to the judicial report, at the close of financial year for 2021/2022, the case backlog stood at 50,592 cases (30.11%) against 168,007 pending cases.

This was a 2.23% (1,156 cases) reduction from financial year for 2020/21 status of 51,748 backlog cases.

A total of 11,650 (37.6%) cases of the 30,969 pending at High Court Divisions were backlog cases.

The High Court Circuits 19,824 (59.6%) cases of the 33,222 pending were backlog cases.

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