FACT CHECKER: Is Uganda’s Supreme Court working or not?

Uganda's Supreme Court bench during the hearing of Robert Kyagulanyi's petition in 2021/ Photo: Independent

On Wednesday, 23rd November, 2022, an opinion article appearing on the Observer online portal claimed Uganda’s Supreme Court judges are earning money for free for they are not working.

The article written by human rights lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde says the judges of Uganda’s highest court have not worked since 27th April, 2022 after a fire reportedly burned down part of the Chief Justice’s chambers.

Subsequently, Supreme Court premises were shut to undertake overall long overdue renovations of the court which had become unhabitable.

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Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo assured members of the public that the Supreme Court would keep operating partially with Justices working remotely and the court’s operations running digitally.

So, is it true Supreme Court Judges are earning free money?

“The minimum take-home pay (salary and benefits) of a justice of the Supreme court is Shs 30 million. For now, that comes to Shs 210 million per justice for no work done in the past seven months. Collectively, that is more than Shs 1.7 billion thrown away by the taxpayer on esteemed members of the apex court who are continuing to earn without working (merely because there is a building being renovated) and yet there are several alternatives available to them had they desired to demonstrate initiative, fidelity and accountability.” Mr Isaac Ssemakadde writes.

Contrary to this assertion, official information from the Judiciary shows the Supreme Court judges have been working – with case hearing conducted at the Judiciary headquarters, although Judiciary officials admit it has not been working “to the maximum.”

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As a result, the Supreme Court has not met its case disposal targets.


Publicly available data indicates the Supreme Court conducted pre-hearing proceedings in 88 criminal appeals between May and July, 2022; 23 cases heard on May 12th, 31 cases heard on June 24, and 34 cases heard on July 12th.

In the same period, the Supreme Court delivered 11 judgments or rulings in Civil applications and main Civil appeals.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court expects to hear 45 civil and criminal appeals during the period of November and December.

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Benjamin is a Digital Legal News Journalist (trained by Reuters) and digital media enthusiast who founded The Legal Reports website in January, 2020 while a fourth year law student at Makerere University school of law.

Prior to that, Benjamin used to write amateur blogs and some of his legal commentaries were published by the Daily Monitor and Independent Magazine - both leading publications in Uganda. He covers lawyers, law students, judges, judiciary, courts, law schools, and law firms.

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