President Yoweri Museveni has said Uganda would not have
developed if the citizens had not embraced the unity initiated by
the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government which the
past governments had failed to achieve.
The President says it’s the NRM that brought politics of unity as
opposed to tribalism and this has ensured peace and security
throughout the country which previously was unheard of.
While officiating at the 5th Memorial Day of Chief Justice
Benedicto Kagimu Mugumba Kiwanuka at the High Court in
Kampala, under the theme: “Benedicto Kiwanuka – Reflections on
the Independence of the Judiciary in Modern Times”, H.E the
President described as missed opportunities moments where the
educated class in Uganda, because of their tribalistic mindset,
failed to agree for a common cause like getting rid of former
President Idi Amin who ordered for the abduction and killing of
former Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka, the whereabouts of
whose remains remain unknown.
2 | P a g e
He saluted Kiwanuka whom he described as a principled person,
saying it was unfortunate that he ended up working for the wrong
Government of Idi Amin.
“We salute Ben Kiwanuka but please Ugandans, the political class,
let’s not lose new opportunities. NRM has been able to keep you
together for 35 years now. That’s why we are moving. I appeal to
you all, consolidate and support this unity and approach of
togetherness (Agali awamu gegaluma ennyama) loosely translated
as “Teeth which are together can chew the meat better,” H.E
Today marks 50 years since the late Chief Justice Kiwanuka was
last seen alive and five years since the Judiciary gazetted the
Benedicto Kiwanuka Day in commemoration of the first Ugandan
According to H.E Museveni, in 1971, despite the willingness of
some neighbouring countries like Tanzania and Somalia who
wanted to invade and get rid of Idi Amin, the British were
determined to intervene and defend Amin because the political
class in Uganda was not united and the same scenario happened
in 1980 where after getting rid of Amin, Uganda People’s Congress
(UPC), a small group by then, wanted to take hold of the whole
situation and marginalise others which resulted into a new war.
“So, you can see the missed opportunities for a broad-based unity.
We missed 1962, 1971 and 1980 and every time we met to get a
broad-based position, a lot of trouble for the country resulted. For
us when we came under the NRM, we said we needed a broadbased unity to bring everybody together,” Museveni said.
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He hailed Chief Justice Kiwanuka for standing firm against the
tribal chauvinism of Mengo, saying no to pushing tribal agendas
and advocating for a national position.
“I worked with him in the Democratic Party (DP) although DP still
had its sectarian side being mainly a Catholic party but at least on
the national unity, they took a correct position and we should
salute him for that,” the President said, adding that Uganda would
not have had political problems if UPC under Milton Obote had not
been opportunistic to try and please Mengo.
The President informed the gathering about the contribution of his
constituency of freedom fighters as events unfolded leading to the
total peace Uganda is enjoying now.
“Number one, we are the ones who removed the killers of Ben
Kiwanuka. That should be clear, because those who were killing
these people who were they? They were the colonial soldiers, Idi
Amin and group, and who removed them? The freedom fighters
(NRM),” Museveni said, adding that it’s the reason Uganda is able
to discuss how to move forward.
Other contributions of freedom fighters, according to H.E
Museveni, were ushering in democracy that eventually saw the
first elections held that never existed for 18 years between 1962
and 1980; dismantling the sectarian system of religion and tribes
which had paralysed Uganda and Africa, repairing the economy
and ensuring total peace for people to build their lives. The other
one was to financially support the Government structures
including the judiciary.
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“This is the context I want you to remember”, Museveni noted,
adding that the focus now is to critically look and pay more
attention to what many are advocating for- the independence of
the Judiciary which he said needs some amendment.
“Independence from whom? You cannot be independent of the
Ugandan people. So, I would like some amendment to this idea. It
is correct that the Judiciary should be independent for sure, but it
should be independent within a convergent national system,” H.E
Museveni said, adding: “You could not have talked of judicial
independence under Idi Amin”.
The President reiterated his commitment to support the Judiciary
bring services closer to the people.
Chief Justice Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo thanked the family of
Benedicto Kiwanuka for giving Uganda their son who served as a
politician, as a private practitioner and Chief Justice of Uganda
whom he described as “a principled man whose trademark sense
of righteousness and commitment to the straight ways of justice”
put him at loggerheads with the infamous Government of Idi Amin
to an extent of taking his life.
“The man who took oath to protect the life and properties of
Ugandans (Idi Amin) took the life of one of the persons he took oath
to protect,” CJ Owiny-Dollo said.
The Chief Justice saluted President Museveni for the support to
the Judiciary especially The Administration of the Judiciary Act
2020 and enhancement of the Judiciary budget that has greatly
improved service delivery of the Judiciary.
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He told the President that the increment in the budget has seen an
increase in the number of Chief Magistrates to 77 up from 42, more
16 Magisterial areas have been operationalised and the number of
Grade one Magistrates has increased to 301 from 186 in the
previous financial year. This, he said, has reduced the backlog of
“For the first time, Karamoja sub-region has a High Court served
by a judge. They don’t have to rely on Soroti anymore. We have
opened High Court in Tororo, Iganga, Luweero, Hoima and
Rukungiri,” the Chief Justice said, adding that more ten (10) more
High Court judges will be recruited this financial year and more
new High Court circuits will be opened in Nebbi, Bushenyi, Kasese,
Kamuli, Kitgum, Lyantonde and Apac districts to enable easy
access to justice.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Emmanuel Ni Ashie Kote, a Ghanaian
Supreme Court Judge, spoke highly about the independence and
the financial autonomy of the Judiciary for it to perform better.
“We should all work towards the financial autonomy of the
Judiciary,” Prof. Kote said.
The Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Nobert
Mao promised to support the President in strengthening the
Judiciary and other arms of Government to work as a team.
“We believe that the Judiciary has changed a lot. We promise to
support your agenda of the whole Government approach of
ensuring that we build a strong state,” Hon. Mao said.
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Mao, who is also the President of DP to which Chief Justice
Kiwanuka belonged, reawakened the call to the Government of
Uganda to get involved in finding his remains to be accorded a
“We would be happy like the Congolese even if we just received a
tooth. We would at least be able to bury that tooth. The technology
exists. There are now people in Argentina known as ‘forensic
archeologists’. We know roughly where he could have been buried
but we need the support of the Government to get involved. It will
be a glorious day, Your Excellency, when our country finally buries
a man whose dream was to have a Ugandan state whose
foundation is Truth and Justice,” Minister Mao said, adding that
as the country reflects on how he lived, more reflection should be
on how died, a manner which he said speaks more about the
human rights and democracy in our country.
The President of the Uganda Law Society and East Africa Law
Society, Mr. Bernard Oundo and the Deputy Chief Justice Richard
Buteera also addressed the gathering.
Principal Judge Emeritus, Dr Yorokamu Bamwine and the late
Justice Leticia Mukasa Kikonyogo who died at the age of 77 years
were recipients of the Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka Awards
2022 for their distinguished service with integrity in the Judiciary.
Justice Kikonyogo was the first Ugandan woman Magistrate Grade
I from 1971–1973; the first woman Chief Magistrate between 1973
and 1986; the first woman to be appointed High Court Judge in
1986 and who later also sat on the Court of Appeal. She was later
appointed the first woman Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda.
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Chief Justice Kiwanuka was murdered during Amin’s
administration on September 21, 1972, after he was abducted
from his chambers at the High Court in Kampala.
Five years since the Judiciary declared an annual memorial lecture
in his honour every September 21, every memorial lecture has
been dominated by calls for respect of the independence of the
The colourful ceremony was attended by hundreds of guests
physically and online. The High Court event was attended
physically by among others the family of the late Chief Justice
Benedicto Kiwanuka, Chief Justice Emeritus Benjamin Odoki, the
Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka; Minister of State for
Defense, Hon. Oboth Oboth, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal
Judges, retired Justices, representatives from Uganda Law Society
ULS), Senior police and Prisons officers and development
BERNARD OUNDO –
PRESIDENT OF THE UGANDA LAW SOCIETY
PRESIDENT OF THE EAST AFRICA LAW SOCIETY
Your Excellency, on behalf of the Members of the Uganda Law Society and the East
Africa Law Society, I take this opportunity to wish you a belated happy 78th
Birthday. May the Good Lord continue to bless you abundantly.
Your Excellency, today marks the eve of 50 years since the immortal Benedicto
Kiwanuka was last seen in the public. Today, we do not mourn him but celebrate
his life. A life that was distinguished in his works, a life that stood for truth and
justice and a life that continued and has continued to impact generations of
lawyers and the public. He is acknowledged as a Statesman who selflessly
promoted democracy and justice in Uganda.
Today is also significant because of the new Minister of Justice and Constitutional
Affairs, the Hon. Norbert Mao, whom I am fortunate to call an old boy having gone
to the oldest school in this country, Namilyango College, the leader of the
Democratic Party today, which party Benedicto Kiwanuka founded the eve of
Uganda’s independence. It is a day of historic proportion, Your Excellency. On
behalf of the members of the Uganda Law Society and the East Africa Law Society,
I congratulate you on your appointment as the Minister of Justice and
Today’s theme urges us to reflect on the independence of the judiciary in modern
times. Judicial independence is fundamental to democracy. Addressing the Cape
Law Society, the Late former Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa Arthur
Chaskalson, has this to say:
“Judicial Independence is a requirement demanded by the Constitution, not in the
personal interests of the Judiciary, but in the public interest, for without that
protection judges may not be, or be seen before the public to be, able to perform
their duties without fear or favour.”
THE 5TH CHIEF JUSTICE BENEDICTO KIWANUKA MEMORIAL DAY
The principle of Judicial Independence is very extensive and complex but the
common thread that runs through the various definitions exist at two levels: firstly,
at an individual level – the ability of a judge to impartially and independently apply
his or her mind to a matter without undue influence and secondly at an
institutional level – the ability of the judiciary to control the administration and
appointment of court staff. To do this, the judge must have security of tenure and
financial security in order to guard against bribery and related interference and
corrupt conduct and the judiciary must manage its own administrative functions
The pertinent question therefore today from where we stand is whether there
exists sufficient legislative mechanism to guarantee the independence of the
judiciary, what progress has been made to actualize these legislative mechanism
and what threats we see as a bar on the independence of the judiciary.
There has been significant progress made under your leadership towards ensuring
the independence of the leadership towards ensuring the independence of the
judiciary. We applaud you, your Excellency for the effort made this far and we shall
The Enactment of The Administration of the Judiciary Act 2020 – through this the
Judiciary has been able to have: increased funding for the Judiciary to UGX 376
Billion for the FY 2021/2022; inauguration of the Judiciary Council, a new oversight
organ that was established to advise the Chief Justice on the administration of
Justice and the Courts; improved Court Performance for the year 2021 as the courts
were able to dispose of 158,423 cases; Alternative Dispute Resolution Interventions
like plea-bargaining, small-claims procedure and mediation were promoted; the
structure of the Judicial Officers was expanded and remuneration for the lower
bench was improved, allowing the Judiciary to receive 152 new appointments and
promotions during the year 2021.
As the Uganda Law Society, we have also advocated for the independence of the
Judiciary as a key tenet for a democratic and rule of law culture. In Uganda Law
Society v Attorney General Constitutional Petition No. 52 of 2018 we successfully
argued that the interpretation and scope of Judicial Independence as laid out
under our Constitution included financial autonomy. The Court noted that Judicial
Independence was an integral component of any progressive democracy and
observed that Judicial Independence involved both individual and institutional
relationships and the individual independence of a Judge in such matters as
security of tenure and institutional independence of the court was also reflected
in its institution or administrative relationships to the executive and legislative
branches of government.
THE 5TH CHIEF JUSTICE BENEDICTO KIWANUKA MEMORIAL DAY
Justice Cheborion Barishaki in Uganda Law Society v Attorney General stated that
supervision of court and application of disciplinary measures to judges must be
organized in such a manner so that the actual independence of judges might not
Threats to the Independence of the Judiciary
Despite the significant achievements made in both the institutional and financial
funding of the Judiciary, there are a number of threats which in our view need to
be addressed as we progressively realise the independence of the Judiciary.
Courts in Uganda are clothed with constitutional powers to dispense justice to all
persons. Justice is delivered and communicated through Court orders, which must
be obeyed by all persons, institutions and authorities in the land at all times.
However, some government institutions treat Court orders as mere white papers
with blank ink. They are accorded no respect and in some cases no attention at all.
Especially, Security organs like police, intelligence agencies and departments like
State House Anti-Corruption Unit, Health Monitoring Units among others. Police
and law enforcement authorities must listen to the voice of the law (court
pronouncements) and respect them to the dot.
In some cases, a court of law will issue orders maintaining the status quo, only for
the police to go and alter it.
Respect of court orders is a cardinal tenet of rule of law, constitutionalism and
Judicial Independence. Article 128(3) of the Constitution enjoins the organs of
government to support the effective delivery of justice.
There is a perception that some judges do not act independently and there are
decisions are influenced from powers above. This perception is fuelled by
uninformed political statements by politicians and these need to be
comprehensively and properly addressed. Examples include statements to the
effect that cadre judges will be appointed to the Judiciary, statements alleging
that certain judges have been bribed and so forth erode public confidence in the
Judiciary especially when made by politicians. We believe that anyone aggrieved
by Judicial decision must appeal that decision using the appellate process and any
disciplinary issues against Judicial officers must be raised to the Judicial Service
This perception is also fueled by certain judgements especially relating to the
protection of human rights and freedoms. As the court observed in Uganda Law
society v Attorney General, the independence of Judges and courts is not an end
itself, it is a necessary condition of protection of human rights and freedoms
THE 5TH CHIEF JUSTICE BENEDICTO KIWANUKA MEMORIAL DAY
Today, Your Excellency and Members of the bench, it is appropriate for me to refer
to a decision by the Late Benedicto Kiwanuka, CJ (as he then was) in Musoke v
Uganda (1972) 1 EA 137. The applicant was charged with robbery and was released
on bail. There after the State amended the Charge to robbery with aggravation and
successfully applied for bail to be rescinded. More than three months passed
without the applicant being brought to bail. He again applied for bail and also
named witnesses he wished to call but he was not brought from Prison and the
trail could not therefore take place. After several adjournments, the trial eventually
The Late Justice Kiwanuka had this say on the events:
“I do not deny that the Director of Public Prosecutions has every right to alter
charges as he sees fit. But as a Judge of this Court, I am bound to come to the
rescue of our citizens where I detect an attempt on the part of those who have
power to prosecute others to abuse the power in their hands. This in my view is
one of those cases.”
How often are we coming to the rescue of our citizens? Is history repeating itself?
Judicial accountability is crucial to Judicial integrity. In Attorney General v Gladys
Nakibuule Kisekka Constitutional Appeal No 02 of 2016, the Supreme Court stated
that whereas Judicial Independence can bolster Judicial courage exercised by
Judges called upon to rule in difficult cases, accountability can bolster the
integrity Judges demonstrate in their performance on the Bench. Judicial
accountability refers to Judges being answerable for their actions and decisions to
the community to whom they owe their allegiance.
Security of tenure is one of the key tenets of an independent Judiciary. It is
important for providing stability in the functioning of the courts and prevents any
perception of lack of independence in the Judiciary. We should strongly reconsider
appointing Judges in an Acting Capacity and I appreciate that this is a court
matter and I will say nothing more except to reemphasize that if Judges do not
have security of tenure, the independence of the Judiciary is greatly undermined.
The enactment of the Administration of the Judiciary Act marked a key turning
point for the independence of the judiciary. The subsequent implementation of the
Act is a sign of good progress towards actualizing the independence of the
Judiciary. We understand that this is not a destination but a journey and we must
work together to strengthen the independence which is a key tenet for rule of law
and democracy. The threats we have highlighted must be sufficiently addressed.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Judiciary and the Organizing
Committee for this opportunity to share our thoughts as ULS.
THE 5TH CHIEF JUSTICE BENEDICTO KIWANUKA MEMORIAL DAY
HON. JUSTICE ALFONSE CHIGAMOY OWINY – DOLLO,
CHIEF JUSTICE OF UGANDA
th BENEDICTO KIWANUKA MEMORIAL LECTURE
AT THE HIGH COURT GROUNDS, KAMPALA
st SEPTEMBER, 2022
Your Excellency, The President of the Republic of Uganda,
The Hon. Deputy Chief Justice,
The Hon. Ministers present,
The Learned Attorney General,
The Hon. Principal Judge,
The Hon. Justices of the Supreme Court,
The Hon. Justice Prof. Emmanuel Kotey, JSC of Ghana & keynote speaker
The Hon. Justices of the Court of Appeal,
The Hon. Judges of the High Court,
Your Excellency the Heads of Diplomatic Missions,
The Honourable Members of Parliament,
Your Grace the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda,
The Inspector General of Government,
The Chairpersons of Constitutional Commissions,
The Director of Public Prosecutions,
The Hon. Retired Justices and Judges,
The Chief Registrar, Courts of Judicature,
The Secretary to the Judiciary,
The Lord Mayor, Kampala Capital City Authority,
Your Worships the Registrars and Magistrates,
The President Uganda Law Society & distinguished Members of the Bar,
The Administrative and support Staff of the Judiciary,
The Family of Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka,
Our esteemed Participants attending Online,
Members of the Fourth Estate,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Your Excellency, today, the 21st of September, 2022 we have
congregated here, as we have done for the past years, to honour the
memory of Hon. Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka, who was last seen
alive on 21st of September 1972. The Judiciary of Uganda has continued
to honour Ben Kiwanuka for his sacrifice and fortitude in defending the
rule of law and the fundamental freedoms of the oppressed, from which
the Judiciary service draws inspiration and motivation.
I take this auspicious opportunity, on my own behalf and on behalf of
the Judiciary of Uganda, to warmly welcome you, and to particularly
thank you for gracing this important Judiciary event, in spite of your busy
schedules; something you have unfailingly done since the launch of this
celebration five years ago.
In a special way I applaud Your Excellency because you have explicitly
supported the Judiciary Transformation Agenda. Your Excellency we do
not take your participation for granted: It assures us of your unwavering
support to the Judiciary and evident contribution to the rule of law and
access to justice services for the people of Uganda.
I specially wish to welcome Hon. Justice Prof. Emmanuel Nii Ashie
Kotey, Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana who has, on behalf of the
Chief Justice of Ghana, travelled all the way from West Africa to East
Africa in order to be with us and to share with us his extensive experience
in Judiciary Service. We thank you heartily, Justice Kortey, and
welcome you to the Pearl of Africa.
Your Excellency, the Judiciaries of Ghana and Uganda share a common
history. Both have Martyrs of Justice. As highlighted by our keynote
Speaker, they too lost three gallant judges (Justice Fred Poku Sarkodee;
Lady Justice Cecilia Koranteng – Addow and Justice Kwadow Agyei
Agyepong) who were abducted and murdered in 1982 for their boldness
and courage in the administration of justice, when the country was under
As you may already know, Ben Kiwanuka started his legal career at
Gray’s Inn in London in February 1956 but when Uganda achieved
internal self-government on 1st March 1962 he became Uganda’s first
Prime Minister in the new National Assembly and he was later
appointed Chief Justice on 27th June 1971 by President Iddi Amin
Kiwanuka was the first Ugandan to serve in this Office. After assuming
office, history has it that he immediately announced that he intended to
meet with all local magistrates in Uganda to address problems of
tardiness, drunkenness, lack of impartiality and delayed judgments. He
also promised to protect Ugandans against Government abuses. It is his
trademark ‘sense of righteousness’ and commitment to the ‘straight ways of
justice’ that put him at loggerheads with President Amin.1
It is reported that Kiwanuka met his death following his decision to hear
the case of a British businessman Daniel Stewart, who had been arrested
and detained without trial at a Military Barracks. Kiwanuka issued a writ
of habeas corpus, directing the Government Military Authorities to
produce him before the Court from the illegal detention for possible
release. On 21st September 1972, shortly after 8 am, as Kiwanuka sat in
his Chambers, at the High Court building, where we are now gathered,
plain-clothed Government intelligence officers confronted him at
gunpoint, forced him out of the High Court building and into the trunk
of a waiting Peugeot car which sped off, and since then Kiwanuka was
never seen alive again.2
1 See: Jonathon L. Earle & J. J. Carney: Contesting Catholics, Benedicto Kiwanuka and the Birth of Post-Colonial
Uganda, Fountain Publishers, 2021, p. 189.
2 See: Earle and Carney: ibid. pp. 192-193
Today marks 50 years since Hon. Chief Justice Benedicto Kagimu
Mugumba Kiwanuka was last seen alive. The Chief Justice was martyred
for his unflinching advocacy against arbitrary arrests, extra judicial
killings, torture, and the utter disregard for the rule of law, that painfully
characterised the infamous President Idi Amin Dada regime.
As the Judiciary family acknowledges the noble role Kiwanuka played
in the promotion of the observance of the rule of law and respect for
human rights for which he paid the ultimate price; we are called upon to
mirror the life of the indomitable Ben Kiwanuka and ask ourselves what
we have so far done, and what else we can do, for our people. Our
reminiscent theme this year is: “Benedicto Kiwanuka: Reflections on the
Independence of the Judiciary in Modern Times.” The martyrdom of Ben
Kiwanuka was a consequence of his determination to assert the judicial
independence in the face of the Chief Executive who had no regard
whatsoever for the rule of law.
In 1985 the United Nations outlined: Basic Principles on the
Independence of the Judiciary,3
1. The independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed by the State and
enshrined in the Constitution or the law of the country. It is the duty of all
governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the
independence of the judiciary.
2. The judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of
facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, improper
influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or
indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.
3. The judiciary shall have jurisdiction over all issues of a judicial nature and
shall have exclusive authority to decide whether an issue submitted for its
decision is within its competence as defined by law.
3 Adopted by the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held
at Milan from 26 August to 6 September 1985 and endorsed by General Assembly resolutions 40/32 of 29 November
1985 and 40/146 of 13 December 1985.
4. There shall not be any inappropriate or unwarranted interference with the
judicial process, nor shall judicial decisions by the courts be subject to
revision. This principle is without prejudice to judicial review or to
mitigation or commutation by competent authorities of sentences imposed
by the Judiciary, in accordance with the law.
5. Everyone shall have the right to be tried by ordinary courts or tribunals
using established legal procedures. Tribunals that do not use the duly
established procedures of the legal process shall not be created to displace
the jurisdiction belonging to the ordinary courts or judicial tribunals.
6. The principle of the independence of the judiciary entitles and requires the
judiciary to ensure that judicial proceedings are conducted fairly and that
the rights of the parties are respected.
7. It is the duty of each Member State to provide adequate resources to enable
the judiciary to properly perform its functions.
From these Principles, it is clear that Judicial independence operates on
a number of facets. Foremost, is the exercise of obligation by the State,
second, is the availability of an enabling legal system, third, is the
exclusive exercise of judicial authority by the Courts, fourth is the
Courts’ effort to ensure that the laws are properly interpreted and
appropriately applied; and lastly is the duty of the State to provide
sufficient resources to the Judiciary to enable it operate effectively.
Judicial Independence will also be guaranteed through, inter alia,
appointing suitable and qualified persons into judicial positions, ensuring
judicial officers enjoy security of tenure, willingness to respect and
enforce court decisions, regardless of who is affected by the decisions;
and making the Courts accessible to the common man seeking for justice.
Your Excellency, as we reflect on the independence of the Judiciary
today, I must state that this theme resonates with the theme of the just
concluded Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Conference in
Accra, Ghana; which was ‘access to justice in the modern times’. I was
privileged to attend this conference together with 25 Chief Justices from
across the Common Wealth. One of the highlights was the need to
strengthen the financial and administrative independence of our
Judiciaries. I must thank you Your Excellency once again for the
Administration of the Judiciary Act, 2020 through which we have gained
a lot. However, administratively we still desire more involvement in the
recruitment, promotion and discipline of our Staff. At an opportune
time, Your Excellency we shall seek the necessary support to address this
Your Excellency, save for a few incidents such as the Black Mamba saga4
of 16th November 2005, I am happy to report that the Judiciary has
enjoyed relative independence over the years. The Courts have been able
to make decisions, even against the executive, that have been respected
and enforced. The voice of the Judicial Officers has been heard and
understood by the Legislature and the Executive when we demanded for
improved terms of service. We are also progressively receiving tools of
work such as automation of Court processes, ICT equipment, vehicles
and legal reference materials, among others. We are grateful to
Government for this endearing support.
In order to break the chains and make the rule of law more tangible in
our lives, we are working on enhancing access to justice services across
Uganda. We hope to achieve this through concentrating on a few key
areas. These are:
(i) Continued construction of courts, recruitment and deployment
of more judicial and non-judicial Officers, and providing
working tools to the staff;
(ii) Establishing more Courts across the country in order to
eliminate case backlog and to bring justice services nearest to the
4 See: James Katabazi and 21 Others V Secretary General of the East African Community, The Attorney General of
the Republic of Uganda EACJ, Reference No. 1 of 2007.
(iii) Strengthening the Judicial Training Institute to offer up-to-date
capacity building and refresher training to the judicial and nonjudicial staff;
(iv) Reinforcing the Inspectorate of Courts, to effectively supervise
court operations, promote judicial accountability and curb
(v) Promoting innovations, simplifying court processes and
enhancing use of ICT in case management and delivery of justice
We have seriously embarked on the pursuit of our transformation
agenda; with remarkable impact registered across the Country. When
Your excellency visited us, on this very ground, on 29th January 2021 at
the opening of the New Law Year, we had only 42 Chief Magistrates in
this Country. Out of the 42, 27 were circuiting between 2 to 6 Magisterial
areas. For instance, the Chief Magistrate of Fort Portal was caretaking
Kamwenge, Bundibujo, Kasese, Ntoroko and Kyenjojo. The one of
Soroti was caretaking Kumi, Katakwi, Amuria and Kaberamaido.
This critically fettered service delivery in those Courts. Today we have
77 Chief Magistrates, this is the highest number of Chief Magistrates the
Judiciary has had in our country. Consequently, we have
operationalized 16 Magisterial areas of Dokolo, Mayuge, Sironko,
Katakwi, Rakai, Kiryadongo, Kyenjojo, Bubulo, Kumi, Kamuli,
Isingiro, Kotido, Kira, Lugazi and Pader. Karamoja sub-region now has
2 Chief Magistrates, while Acholi Sub- region has 4 Chief Magistrates.
Regarding the Magistrates Grade one, by February 2021, we had only
186, but today we have 301 Magistrates. As a result, we have
operationalized Magistrate Grade One Courts of Kyotera, Kyanika,
Kole, Lamwo, Kyazanga, Kalungu, Amuria, Atanga, Kalongo,
Kangulumira, Namugalwe, Kibiito and Nyarushanje; plus, Municipal
Courts of Mbarara, Masaka, Tororo and Arua. The improved coverage
of the Judiciary at this rank has reduced case backlog from 4,894 backlog
cases (out of 25,846 pending cases during FY 2020/2021) to only 2,602
out of the total caseload of 22,995 that were pending before Magistrates
Grade I Courts.
The appointment of 16 Judges who were deployed on 15th August 2022
brings the number of High Court Judges to 72 up from 56. This is the
first time the High Court attains this number. Following this recruitment,
we immediately operationalized the High Court Circuits of Moroto,
Tororo, Iganga, Luwero, Hoima and Rukungiri. This will significantly
improve physical access to justice for our people.
Your Excellency, this Financial Year we plan to recruit at least 10 High
Court Judges. It is my desire to deploy more Judges in the Commercial
Court and at the Land Division, where enormous amounts of money and
land resources, respectively, are tied up. It is also my desire to
operationalise 08 more High Court Circuits at Nebbi, Bushenyi, Kasese,
Kamuli, Kitgum, Lyantonde, and Apac. This will significantly reduce
case backlog and enhance access to justice services. The release of money
tied up in the Courts, through the disposal of cases in Commercial Court
and Land Division of the High Court alone, would have monumental
impact on our economy.
Your Excellency, please allow me seek your indulgence regarding the
Supreme Court. I appeal for the appointment of justices of the Supreme
Court to fill the acute staffing gap and allow us deal with the case backlog
that has grown at that Court by 16.4% to 333 cases out of 686 last
Financial Year (2021/2022) up from the previous 286 cases out of 614
cases during the previous F/Y 2020/2021. This growth of case backlog
is mainly because the Court is not fully constituted.
Access to justice will only be fully realised when the software – the
Judicial Officers – are ethical and hardworking. For this, we are putting
in place a robust Inspectorate of Courts and a focused training regime.
Regarding the hardware of the Judiciary, we have equally registered
laudable progress. The construction of the Supreme Court and Court of
Appeal, funded entirely by the Government of Uganda, is in sound
progress at 85% completion stage. By close of this year we shall be able
to occupy the Supreme Court Block, and by the end of February 2023,
the Court of Appeal Block would equally be ready. These structures
further strengthen the independence of the Judiciary by allowing the
Courts to sit in their own home. This will not only save us from
threatened evictions but will also prevent scenarios where some
landlords house Courts in which they also have cases.
I am also pleased to report that we have also accomplished construction
and renovation of a number of Courts and Justice Centers across the
Country, with funding directly from GoU and through JLOS donor
I am confident that, with your continued support, we shall be able to
honour Chief Justice Ben Kiwanuka better, when a litigant is able to walk
to court, testify in a matter and walk back home; when a litigant is able
to file a case in January and pocket his judgement before December;
when Orders issued by Courts are respected by every person and
authority in the Land; and when cases of torture of suspects,
incommunicado detentions and ‘paying for justice’ become history.
We owe it to Ben Kiwanuka to do all that is within our individual and
collective power, to further advance the cause of justice. I call upon all
the people of Uganda, the Government, and Non-Government
Agencies, to join hands, so that together we strive for the Rule of Law,
access to justice and observance of human rights for all persons as we
brave the challenges for the good of our people.
Your Excellency, allow me to once again extend our appreciation to the
family of the late C.J. Benedicto Kiwanuka and to all the distinguished
participants for turning up to celebrate the memorable contribution of
Ben Kiwanuka to the administration of justice and the rule of law in our
In a special way I wish to congratulate the distinguished retired judicial
officers who have won the Benedicto Kiwanuka Award of 2022. My Lord
late Laeticia Mukasa Kikonyogo Deputy Chief Justice Emeritus and My
Lord Hon. Dr. Yorokamu Bamwine, Principal Judge Emeritus. Your
distinguished contribution to the Judiciary is much acknowledged and
well appreciated. May the Good Lord reward you and give you good
health in your retirement; and may he grant eternal rest to the soul of the
departed DCJ. We thank your family members who have come to
commemorate with us and we wish them the best of luck.
I also wish to pay special tribute to the Chief Justice of the Republic of
Ghana, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, who through the Hon. Prof. Justice
Emmanuel Nii Ashie Kotey has delivered a memorable discourse on the
imperatives of promoting and defending the rule of law to ensure judicial
independence and excellence. We will treat some of the Ghanaian
experience as best practices applicable to the Ugandan Judiciary.
I wish to thank you the Hon. the Deputy Chief Justice and the entire
Organising Committee that you Chaired, for making this day a great
success. I also thank the formidable Top Management team that is
working with me on the transformation of the Judiciary. The Deputy
Chief Justice, the Principal Judge, the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to
the Judiciary and the Chief Registrar have offered to the Judiciary great
contribution and support.
Your Excellency, your presence is reassuring; and is testimony of your
deep seated quest for the rule of law and independence of the Judiciary
to prevail in our country. We thank you once again for always
responding to our call.
Lastly, I thank God who has protected all of us and taken us through the
storm of Covid-19. At least this year, we have had a bigger function as
we commemorate the 5th Benedicto Kiwanuka Memorial Day which is
significantly 50 years after his disappearance.
God Bless You All.
For God and my Country.
I now have the singular honour to invite Your Excellency, to address
your people. I thank you.
Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny – Dollo
REMARKS OF THE HON. JUSTICE RICHARD BUTEERA
THE DEPUTY CHIEF JUSTICE OF UGANDA
AT THE COMMEMORATION OF BENEDICTO KIWANUKA
HELD ON 21ST SEPTEMBER 2022
AT HIGH COURT GROUNDS
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– Your Excellency The President of The Republic of Uganda
– The Right Honourable Speaker of Parliament
– The Hon. The Chief Justice of the Republic of Uganda
– The Hon. Minster of Internal Affairs
– The Hon. Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs
– The Hon. Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development
– The Hon. Learned Attorney General
– The Hon. The Principal Judge
– The Hon. Justice Professor Kotey Emmanuel Nii Ashie of the Supreme
Court of the Republic of Ghana representing the Chief Justice of Ghana
– The Hon. Justices of the Supreme Court
– The Hon. Justices of the Court of Appeal
– The Hon. Judges of the High Court
– The Heads of Diplomatic Missions Present
– The Members of Parliament Present
– Religious Leaders Present
– The Inspector General of Government
– Chairpersons of Statutory Bodies & Commissions
– The Director of Public Prosecutions
– The Head of Public Service
– The Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Judiciary
– The Chief Registrar
– The Inspector General of Police
– The Commissioner General of Prisons
– The Development Partners
– Heads of the Administration of Justice Programme
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– Your Worships, Registrars and Magistrates
– The President Uganda Law Society and Advocates present
– The Family of the late Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka
– Members of the media
– Participants On-line
– Distinguished Guests
– Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to welcome His Excellency The President of The Republic of Uganda
to the Judiciary Headquarters. I thank you, Your Excellency for gracing this
important occasion in the life of the Judiciary. I welcome all our visitors on
this commemoration day in honour of the late Benedicto Kagimu Kiwanuka.
I particularly and specially welcome Hon. Justice Professor Kotey
Emmanuel Nii Ashie a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of
Ghana representing the Chief Justice of Ghana.
The late Benedicto Kiwanuka, was the first Ugandan to be appointed Chief
Justice. On 21st September 1972 he was violently kidnapped from his
Chambers at this very High Court building. He is believed to have been
murdered by the Government of President Idi Amin.
The late Benedicto Kiwanuka was committed to strengthening the Rule of
Law. He believed in human rights observance. His defence of human
freedoms and liberties needs no emphasis.
The legacy of the late Benedicto Kiwanuka, particularly as a Judge and a
Chief Justice has been celebrated on four occasions before.
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As Judiciary, we have decided to annually recognize and celebrate his life
and achievements to remind ourselves and others of his contribution to the
advancement of Rule of Law in Uganda.
The theme “Benedicto Kiwanuka; Reflections on the Independence of
Judiciary in Modern Times” should help us consider our past; appreciate
the present and prepare for the future in regard to guarding against human
rights violations and promotion of the rule of law.
The rule of law and human rights observance are inseparable from the
independence of the Judiciary. An Independent Judiciary benefits all of us.
We require strong and independent justice institutions to foster and enforce
the law. An Independent Judiciary in modern times is essential if we are to
achieve the purpose of the New Judiciary ushered in by the enactment of the
Administration of Judiciary Act, 2020. We recognize and appreciate all those
who stand for and cherish the values of an Independent Judiciary.
As an independent Judiciary, we stand accountable to the law. We shall
always promote and protect the principles of supremacy of the Constitution,
fair and equal treatment of all people.
In performance of our Judicial duties, we contribute to the national effort of
transforming Uganda by ensuring that all citizens enjoy their rights as they
conduct their affairs in accordance with the law. This celebration of life and
achievements of Benendicto Kiwanuka, calls upon each one of us to reflect
on what we have done, and what more we can do, in the quest for a stronger
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and independent Judiciary and the delivery of Justice to the people in a fair,
speedy and impartial manner as commanded by Article 28(1) of the
In performance of its duties and in offering the Judicial Service to the
population, the Judiciary cannot successfully operate in isolation from other
organs of the State.
Article 128 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda enjoins all
organs and agencies of the state to accord to the courts such assistance as
may be required to ensure the effectiveness of the courts.
We are glad and appreciate the leadership of this Country. We thank the
Executive and the Legislature for having stood and continuing to stand with
the Judiciary in the efforts to effectively and efficiently execute the
Judiciary’s Constitutional mandate which is the Administration of Justice to
In the last two (2) Financial Years, the Judiciary has had its human and
financial resources enhanced. We are optimistic that more resources will be
allocated to the Judiciary. We are grateful to the other two Arms of
Government for the support that the Judiciary has received in this regard.
Our efforts now are to employ these resources and ensure that the Judiciary
administers justice to all in a fair and timely manner.
We appeal to all the citizens of this Country to render to the Judiciary and
all the other Institutions in the Administration of Justice Programme, the
necessary support towards the building of a strong and independent
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Judiciary that will guarantee to all persons the enjoyment of human rights
and freedoms, foster the Rule of Law and contribute to the social economic
development of the Country.
I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thanks to His Excellency The
President of The Republic of Uganda for gracing this occasion as he has
always done in the past. We are humbled and do not take this for granted.
I thank the Honorable The Chief Justice who has consistently ensured that
this day continues to be celebrated annually.
I wish also to thank the organizing committee for their efforts in ensuring
that this day is successful.
I thank you for listening to me.
DEPUTY CHIEF JUSTICE