The Uganda Association of Prosecutors has called on Parliament to prevail on Government to implement its commitments to improve the operations of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
According to Batson Baguma, the President of the Uganda Association of Prosecutors (UAP), public prosecutors earn wages that are disproportionate and lower than their counterparts in other departments and agencies. He said that most of the cases they handle as prosecutors put their lives at risk, citing the murder of former State Prosecutor, Joan Kagezi in 2015.
“A prosecutor carries the whole burden of directing investigations, assembling evidence, meticulously presenting it to court, arguing and proving criminal cases before trial courts as well as pursing appeals and miscellaneous applications,” Baguma said.
Baguma who led a team of officials from the Uganda Association of Prosecutors said this while meeting the Speaker Jacob Oulanyah on Tuesday, 19 October 2021.
He also cited stagnation in rank where members serve in positions for long without promotion despite the presence of 587 vacant senior positions in the DPP structure, including the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Criminals are devising methods of committing crime yet the office that is supposed to pursue them is lagging behind. Almost all departments, divisions and units are being occupied by officers below required ranks while others are not operational due to lack of funding,” Baguma added.
He appealed to Government, through Parliament, to urgently avail funds to the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions so that the vacant positions are filled.
Edwin Mbabazi, a Member of the Uganda Association of Prosecutors, called for the expedited processing of the Witness Protection Bill in Parliament.
Oulanyah committed the institution’s support to the Association, saying their concerns will be presented to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.
‘We should also look at institutions. Take your concerns to the Justice Minister and Attorney General so that they can speak for the DPP in Parliament. Let us give them all the information needed so that they articulate the proposals to MPs,” Oulanyah said.
He commended the work done by the state prosecutors in upholding the justice system, saying investors would not take interest in a society where criminality is high or where the criminal justice system does not respond to their needs.
The Speaker also reiterated the crucial importance of witness protection to uphold the validity of the justice system.