By: Isaac Ainembabazi
The Uganda Law Society has marked 60 years of service of promoting justice in Uganda. However the sector still faces the risk of corruption to the extent that the majority citizens perceive the judiciary as corrupt.
You will always hear people saying “a poor person cannot win a case” and this clearly shows that however a poor man will go to court to seek justice he does not expect justice because of lack of facilitation to access it.
The judiciary is one of the areas where corruption risks are very high and under-the-table cash payments are expected. Lawyers are part and parcel of this corruption problem.
An effective judiciary guarantees fairness in legal processes. It’s a powerful weapon against corruption. But people’s experiences in court are often far from fair.
In some countries, most people in contact with the courts face demands for bribes. Paying a bribe, giving a gift to legal officers, and avoiding problems with the police are on an increase.
Getting your document signed, you will have to pay some money to a clerk or else it will delay for some days if not years. There is the everyday corruption that never even makes the news, because it has just become part of everyday life.
Court efficiency is crucial. A backlog of cases creates opportunities for demanding bribes to fast-track a case. Court personnel can be paid to slow down or speed up a trial, or dismiss a complaint all together.
Corruption precipitates loss of trust in courts leading to citizens resorting to violence and mob justice. This explains to why cases of mob justice are increasing in the country.
Bribery continues to be a factor of Citizen’s Interactions with government officials. Some people are forced to pay for justice others are given sham, financially influenced verdicts. Therefore, there is need to uphold ethics in the legal profession to regain the public trust.
Judicial corruption and procedural delays caused by well-connected defendants pose a serious challenge; Businesses perceive the judiciary to be heavily influenced by members of government, citizens or companies.
Foreign companies have complained that the legal process favours local companies, that political interference can disrupt and delay outcomes.
Therefore as ULS marks 60 years and celebrating it a week after Anti-Corruption day, they have to think of gaining back the trust of a low income earner who goes to court for the sake of doing so.
The 2016 Anti-Corruption day’s theme was, “Reject and report Corruption; your responsibility,” and ULS is marked 60 years under the theme,” Celebrating our story, rekindling ethical practice.”
From the two themes above as citizens reject and report corruption, we should find courts and police free of the vice to handle well these matters .
We have to fight corruption as a whole.
The writer is a Public Policy Analyst, With Interest in Politics
, #Uganda Law Society