Judiciary Still Testing New Bail Guidelines A Year Later

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The Judiciary of Uganda has said that the new Bail guidelines launched about a year ago to supplement the existing laws on Bail are yet to be fully implemented.

In June last year, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo issued the Constitution (Bail Guidelines for Courts of Judicature) Practice Directions 2022 aimed at promoting uniformity and consistency by Courts while considering Bail Applications.

The guidelines require Courts to consider and dispose of Bail Applications expeditiously within 30 days from receipt of the Application with the intention of reducing incidences of pre-trial detention.

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According to the guidelines, the mandatory release on Bail for capital offenders who have been on remand for more than 180 days will be done only by the High Court, yet previously it was the Magistrates’ Court.

The Registrar of the High Court Criminal Division Festo Nsenga, says that the guidelines are still under test and he is hopeful that by June this year, they will know how the guidelines are progressing.

 

Mr. Nsenga was speaking on Tuesday while officiating at the monthly press conference of the Judiciary at the High Court in Kampala.

He also revealed that they have been able to refund more than 2 Billion Shillings in Bail money to people whose cases were concluded.

A person is entitled to a refund of Bail money at the end of the case whether they are found guilty or innocent if they secured bail during the course of their trial.


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Nsenga explained that part of the 10 billion Shillings Bail money that the Judiciary had been stuck with was reclaimed and sent to individual bank accounts.

He says when a person is given bail, they are supposed to make sure that they do not lose the original copy of the bond form. He adds that the bond form is attached to the Application together with a bank account while seeking a refund.

Nsenga also decried the understaffing gaps in the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. He said that they are currently piloting a program of hearing criminal cases every day as opposed to waiting to hear the many cases in a marathon of sessions, but they are being set back by the office of the DPP which is understaffed.

He explained that one prosecutor has cases in many courts in the city at the same time, which increases the case backlog. The Criminal Division of the High Court currently has 1,920 pending cases including murder, aggravated robbery, and kidnaps, and of these 460 cases have been in the system for more than two years and are therefore considered as backlog.

But according to the Judiciary, they plan to eliminate this backlog within this financial year.



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