The Mbarara High Court circuit is set to clear at least 149 criminal cases in the next 40 days.
The cases will be heard by four High Court Judges who include; Anna Mugyenyi Bitature, Susan Abinyo and Immaculate Busingye are each handling 40 cases while Tadeo Asiimwe is handling 29 cases in the multiple sessions that are being held simultaneously.
Out of the 149 cause-listed cases Murder ranks highest with 65 cases followed by Aggravated Defilement with 46. The other cases are Aggravated Robbery with 14, Robbery 14 and Rape with 10 cases.
Justice Mugyenyi in Bushenyi started on 3rd August, and is handling 25 Murder, 10 Aggravated Defilement and five Robbery cases.
Justice Busingye sitting at Mbarara High started on 23rd July, handling nine Robbery, three Rape, 11 Aggravated Defilement and 17 Murder cases.
Justice Abinyo, also sitting at Mbarara High Court, started on 24th July, handling three Rape, nine Aggravated Robbery, 16 Murder and 12 Aggravated Defilement cases.
The Mbarara Senior Resident Judge (Asiimwe) is presiding over a mobile Criminal Session for Refugees at Nakivale Refugee Settlement Camp. The session which began on August 6 will conclude 29 cases. These are seven Murder, 13 Aggravated Defilement 13, 14 Rape and five Aggravated Robbery cases.
The ongoing sessions are in strict adherence to guidelines issued by the Ag Chief Justice, Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo .
In all the sessions, the presiding Judges have held pre-session meetings involving all stakeholders such as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Uganda Prisons Service, the Police, probation officers and advocates to agree on how long hearing of the case will take based on the number of witnesses and evidence available.
Additionally, the sessions are closed to the public with the exception of witnesses, complainants, and other essential actors.
Immediately after these sessions, Mbarara Resident Judge, Joyce Kavuma, will preside over another mobile Criminal Session for Refugees in Nakivale. At least 29 matters have been cause-listed; these include; 10 Murder, two Rape, four Aggravated Robbery, and 13 Aggravated Defilement cases.
The multiple sessions, a first of its kind in the Circuit, have been funded by the Government and the Justice, Law and Order Sector to bolster attempts to clear the backlog.
Mbarara circuit has 1,700 pending criminal cases awaiting trial and as such these sessions will go a long way to address the problem of backlog and congestion in prisons within the circuit.