( Human rights , Commercial, Land and Environment lawyer, Security, Media,Communications Consultant and trainer)
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
POLICE AT THE CENTER OF THE JUSTICE LAW AND ORDER SECTOR’S SERVICE DELIVERY
POLICE AT THE CENTER OF THE JUSTICE LAW AND ORDER SECTOR’S SERVICE DELIVERY
By Moses Paul Sserwanga Esq.
in Garmisch Germany
Since the National Resistance Movement government took over power in 1986, significant inroads have been made in putting the country on a constitutional path. It’s imperative therefore to examine how the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS)with the Uganda Police being one of the major 15 government institutions that make up JLOS.
Like any other revolution that overthrows another government, when the NRM captured power after a 5-year war, it immediately suspended the 1967 Constitution by legal Notice No.1 of 1986, which vested the National Resistance Council (interim parliament) with legislative authority.
The Legal Notice No. 1 stipulated what kind of leadership the NRM wanted to exercise over the country. Since constitutionalism was one of the grievances that led Yoweri Museveni and his fighters to the bush to wage a protracted war against what was perceived as a dictatorial establishment, the NRM planned to have a national constitution where people’s views would be incorporated.
In 1995 a new constitution was made and it effectively ended the operation of Legal Notice No. I. The 1995 Constitution was promulgated after national consultations and extensive debate in the Constituent Assembly. It provides for fundamental human rights in Chapter Four, separation of powers between the judiciary, legislature and the executive.
With the new constitution in place, the government through parliament has since made many laws to operationalise the supreme law of the land. Strong laws on corruption, public accountability and transparency, protection of environment and natural resources, public order, national security, security of persons and property and rule of law, among others, have been put in place.
The last 10 years of JLOS have seen implementation of Strategic Investment Plans (SIP 1& 2). JLOS is now implementing SIP III for the next five years 2012-2017 to ensure the rule of law and justice for all Ugandan irrespective of their gender, age and social status.
The Sector-wide approach is a government system where institutions performing related mandates come together to plan, budget and execute their mandates together as opposed to individual institutions operating in isolation. The approach helps institutions to develop in the short run. For planning to be effective it is done from a holistic approach. It’s about unity in diversity. The JLOS institutions bring different synergies together and consequently become stronger.
There is better communication, coordination and cooperation among the sector institutions. The institutions compliment each other and as a result there are more meaningful benefits to the public that we serve. But emphasis must be made that this approach to governance and provision of service in my view is a transitional process of making the individual institutions become stronger and work better. That’s’ why the JLOS sector-wide approach to provision of services has been regarded a big successful innovation both locally and internationally .
Because of the success of the JLOS sector-wide model, it has been exported to other countries like Zambia, Ghana, Rwanda, Malawi, Afghanistan, Kenya and Tanzania. Others tried it but failed because the sector-wide approach requires a lot of commitment from the top leadership. They must see the value of working together and the NRM government under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni has helped the new JLOS model to flourish .With the JLOS model, government is in position to focus its resources to create positive impact and results for the public good.
For instance, under JLOS there has been a concerted effort to demonstrate that a sector-wide approach to planning and budgeting, which focuses more on results rather than processes is good for the country. Through JLOS, the JLOS institutions which include the Uganda Police Force ,have managed to streamline, plan and budget for their services better and create an all-round results based management system across the chain of justice in the country.
There has been reduction in case backlog from 500% five years ago to a low of 192%by 2011. The prosecution and conviction rate of offenders has improved from a national average of 32% to 51% in the last three years.
The court performance in terms of completion compared to registration of cases has also tremendously improved with a substantial reduction in case backlog which was quite chronic. Some of the cases used to take as many as five years to be cleared. It’s now clear that courts are beginning to tackle the problem of case backlog.
Two years ago JLOS introduced the case backlog Quick Wins Reduction programme which has been successful. Through this programme the Judiciary working together with the Uganda Police Force ,has managed to clean the court system by removing redundant cases and refocusing both the human and financial resources in areas where they are needed most.
JLOS has also helped the police force in the area of education and recruitment. There are now better investigations and prosecutions – generally better competences for those officers involved in the management of court cases. There has also been steady improvement in infrastructure with construction of court facilities and strengthened management systems across the country.
Other achievements include improved infrastructure especially in the hard-to-reach areas in post-conflict northern Uganda. There are now more justice agencies including police units on the ground to the extent that people are suggesting the rest of the country needs affirmative action because the north is over-subscribed.
At the Directorate of Immigration there have registered reduced lead times from 10 to 5 minutes for one to clear through. More immigration points manned by immigration and police officers have been set up across the country. The ministry of Internal Affairs also a key institution on JLOS has decentralized the issuing of passports by opening regional offices in Gulu, Mbale, Mbarara and Arua. All this is to further ease the process of one to acquire a passport.
The Uganda Registration Services Bureau has become an autonomous body and the lead time for one to register a company has reduced from 9 to 3 days on average. The same applies to the Administrator General’s office where it now takes fewer days to get a certificate of No Objection, winding up and better management of estates of deceased persons.
The Uganda Police has helped in the reduction of crime for the last five years with 300 cases reported for every 100,000 people, one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Re-offending rate has gone down from 64% to28% in the last 10 years, which also is a very low rate compared to countries like the US and Britain. This can be attributed to our extended social systems and the rehabilitation of prisoners in our detention centres.
The Judicial Service Commission has also improved its services. Now there is a more open process of recruiting judicial officers. Law Development Centre has been revamped and the 80% student failure rate has been substantially brought down. JLOS is also helping in imporving services offered by members of the Uganda Law Society so that they can effectively execute its mandate of offering public legal education and pro-borno services to the public especially the poor and vulnerable.
Because of our success story, Uganda is now exporting the JLOS model for justice reforms including policing to other African countries and Europe. The Commercial, International Crimes and Anti- corruption divisions of the High Court have been setup and are functional with the Commercial Division having the least number of backlog cases. The Anti-corruption Division takes only 4 months to dispose of a case which is a completion rate of 90%. The challenge though is that these courts are Kampala-based and there is selective prosecution of corruption cases. JLOS working to address these concerns.
The Uganda Police Force is a the center of the new innovations being implemented by JLOS some of which have won international awards such as the Chain Linked Initiative to fast track justice and community policing to prevent crime.
On the whole, it can be argued that great strides have been made in realisation of the rule of law and administration of justice. This is evidenced through the creation of Specialised Divisions of the High Court which include, the Commercial, Land, Family, Criminal and Anti- Corruption divisions where the Uganda Police Force is charged with investigations to ensure fair and speed disposal of cases.
The number of magistrates and judges on the bench has more than doubled and the justice delivery facilities including court premises have been renovated and new ones constructed although the justice sector is still under-funded.
As indicated above among the primary Justice Law and Order Sector , (JLOS) goal under SIP III is to promote the rule of law and fundamental to this goal is the establishment of justice centers across the country to ensure better delivery of justice services to the people of Uganda.
A number of these centers have been constructed across the country since JLOS was set up by government in November 1999 to carry out reforms in Uganda’s justice system.
Among the facilities which have been established , is the Mbale Government Analytical Laboratory at Malukhu road opetrating under the slogan : “Go scientific for a safe and just society”. The facility which was commissioned on October 7th 2010, is run by the Government Analytical Laboratory a directorate in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The services which are provided at the laboratory include forensic tests as back up in ensuring national security, trans-border activities and law and order and provision of evidence in criminal cases all work carried out by the Uganda Police Force.
At the facility , statutory testing for enforcement of public health and environmental standards and regulation is carried out For instance carry out tests on water to ensure its good for public consumption plus pesticide residual , food and drugs tests.
Other services provided at the laboratory include , DNA for parentage, toxicology, questioned documents, ballistics and tool marks identification. Mbale government laboratory which serves the eastern region has a strategic objective of ensuring administration of justice through provision of forensic scientific services.
People don’t have to go to Kampala to get these services. The aim is to bring the services nearer to the people to ensure that as many Ugandans access justice.
Another newly constructed JLSO building is the the Kiryandongo Police station in concerted effort to justice services nearer to the people. Already, there has been a sharp rise in reported criminal cases at Kiryandongo Police Station, another new JLOS facility.
This has been attributed to police access rather than a surge in crime rate. Before the police station was set up, it was difficult for the residents to travel a long distance to report crime in their localities. But with the police station near them, it is now easy to report crime and probably this explains the perceived rising crime incidence.
I’m a Development Communication ,Media and Legal Consultant specializing in good governance and development communication . I’m also a human rights, Commercial and Environment lawyer. I have served as Editor at Saturday and Sunday Monitor and Advocate of the High Court with 10 years of
governance and development consultancy work;16 years of reporting and editing and 11 years of providing legal advocacy services, respectively.
I have initiated and participated in capacity building programmes as
a Promoter of good governance and rural development communication , peace and respect for human rights in war affected areas . I have worked as a Trainer, Presenter, Rapporteur and Resource person at different fora. I have written widely about issues of media and communication ,law reform ,human rights, gender balance,public policy , national development , good
governance and the rule of law and environmental protection in Germany and Uganda.