Magistrates tipped on the adjudication of land matters

Magistrates at the level of Chief Magistrates and Magistrates Grade One took part in a one-day training on Adjudication of Land Matters.

The training, which Judges facilitated; Damalie N. Lwanga, John Eudes Keitirima, Flavia Senoga Anglin and Mr Robert Opio, the recently retired Commissioner Land Registration, was held at Kabira Country Club, Kampala.

While addressing the more than 15 participants, the Chief Registrar, Ms Sarah Langa Siu, observed the challenges in executing court orders. “Ad hoc institutions such as units in State House and the Police have assumed the mandate over land governance making execution of Court orders in land matters nearly impossible in some places,” she said.

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Adding that many Ugandans, particularly vulnerable groups such as peasants, the illiterate and physically handicapped are ignorant of land laws and rights and best uses of land and workings of land transactions. As such, often, they are taken advantage of by the wealthy to deprive them of land.

She cited other challenges such as dual interests over land in the form of user rights separate from ownership rights (the landlord-kibanja holder relationship), few judicial officers to handle land matters/ cases, lack of vehicles to visit locus and limited locus funds.

“However, I am glad to report that this quarter the locus budget allocation has been enhanced to cover all courts,” the CR said, urging participants always to submit their accountabilities.

The Chief Registrar stressed the need to prioritise land cases. “It is important for us as judicial officers to understand what land means to the people we serve. Only then can we meaningfully translate our services to support the need for land justice as it were.”

She commended JLOS for funding the training and JTI for organising the same.

The JLOS Senior Technical Advisor of JLOS, Ms Rachel Odoi-Musoke, stated that due to the sensitivity of land matters, the second Sector Development Plan had prioritised their management as they constitute a larger percentage of the current case backlog.

She further urged the participants to use Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms when handling land cases.

“We should also focus and ensure that we have zero tolerance for corruption in the adjudication process. This way, we build the confidence of the public and ensure that our decisions are respected at all levels,” Ms Odoi stated.

The Registrar of the Judicial Training Institute, Tom Chemutai, thanked the facilitators of the training and implored the participants to implement what they had learnt so that change is realised in their different jurisdictions.

Some of the topics covered included Access to Land Justice, Land Tenure Systems, and Effects of Overlapping Rights on Adjudication of Land Cases, The Roles of Different Actors in Land Transactions and Execution of Court Orders in Land Matters.

Also present, among others, were Deputy Registrars: Angualia Moses Gabriel, Gladys Kiseka Nakibule and Magistrate Grade One, Winfred Naigaga Kyobika.