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IGG LAUNCHES LASPNET ASSESSMENT REPORT ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE JLOS ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGY 2012

An assessment report on the implementation of the Justice Law and Order Sector Anti-Corruption Strategy (JACS) 2012 was, launched on Wednesday April 17th 2019 at Hotel Africana by Hon. Justice Irene Mulyangonja, the Inspector General of Government. 

 

The report commissioned by the Legal Aid Service Providers Network (LASPNET) was compiled since December 2018 and highlighted progress on domestication of the JACS 2012 by three JLOS institutions: The Judiciary, Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and Uganda Police Force (UPF). The strategy which focuses on three pillars of “Prevention; detection of corruption as well as punishing offenders” was developed to reduce corruption in the sector institutions as well as build and strengthen the quality of accountability in the country as a whole.

In her key note address, Justice Mulyagonja decried corruption as a big problem for the country because of its multifaceted nature that leads to failure by many ordinary citizens to understand its various manifestations. In order to curb it, she proposed concerted efforts by government institutions and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to continuously create awareness among the people in the languages they understand. She also alluded to its negative impact noting that, “delivery of services if marred by corruption affects fairness in Courts of law”. The IGG emphasized that improved service delivery should be hinged on efficiency and effectiveness and therefore called on all institutions, and CSOs inclusive, to have internal strategies to root out corruption before fighting it in other institutions.

On his part, Mr. Thomas Tiedemann, the Head of Section- Human Rights and Governance at the European Union Delegation who spoke on behalf of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), appreciated LASPNET for monitoring the JACS 2012 through its Corruption Monitoring Project and commended the progress made by some of the JLOS institutions through channels like; the legal aid open days and automation of services, among others. He however shared the concern by development partners that there has been a slow pace in customizing of JACS by the different JLOS institution. This is against the backdrop that only 3 JLOS institutions namely: Uganda Police Force, Judiciary and Uganda Human Rights Commission had domesticated Anti-Corruption Strategies by 2018. He therefore called on the rest of the institutions to fast track the domestication of the strategy in order to strengthen the graft fight and promised increased support from partners like EU towards this cause.

Mr. Francis Odongyo, the Northern Region representative on the LASPNET Board called for joint meaningful engagement by all stakeholders in order to ‘win the war’ on corruption to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. He highlighted some of the JLOS services and processes most affected by corruption to include; bail applications, recruitment of officers, payment to get police bond and traffic offences.

The LASPNET Executive Director, Ms. Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa in her introductory remarks relayed her hope that the Assessment report would be used as an advocacy tool to inform policy and practice change as well as provide a self-reflection on the progress, gaps and future strategies for effective Implementation of the JLOS Anti-Corruption Strategy and other anti-corruption initiatives towards realizing Access to Justice for all in the country. She appreciated the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) for their unrelenting technical and financial support on interventions towards attaining LASPNET’s vision of A free and Just Society.

While presenting the report, Ms.Namubiru highlighted the following as the key findings :

(i) Only 3 out of the 18 JLOS institutions had domesticated the JLOS Anti-Corruption Strategy by 2018. These include the Judiciary, Uganda Police Force and Uganda Human Rights Commission.

(ii) The Judiciary administered positive developments through elevation of the Inspector of Courts to Chief Inspector of Courts headed by the Justice of Supreme Court; establishment of the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court and the establishment of Customer Care Desks, Call center and Toll-Free lines. All these milestones are step in the right direction to fight corruption in the Judiciary.

(iii) Adoption of automation systems by JLOS institutions including Electronic Court Case Management Information System (ECMIS) and virtual screens in Courts; Prosecutors Case Management System (PROCAMIS) in ODPP and the SUMA App in Police. All the above systems have helped to reduce human interaction which often facilitates opportunistic corruption.

(iv) On the other hand, the Assessment report revealed several gaps that affected the effective implementation of the JACS which included among others; limited funding of anti-corruption agencies; human resource and logistical gaps; poor facilitation of Judicial and Police officers as well as absence of several laws such as the Judiciary Administration Bill, Whistleblowers, Legal Aid law, Asset Recovery and Witness protection laws.

(v) Finally, the report recommends for increased funding of anti-corruption agencies, fast tracking of the outstanding legislations as mentioned above; developing reporting templates for tracking progress on implementation of the JACS; capacity building for Judicial and Police Officers to undertake investigations matching up the sophisticated forms of corruption.

The launch also entailed a panel discussion which was moderated by Mr. Arthur Nsereko from the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC). The panelists were; Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Anatoli Muleterwa in charge of Community Policing, Her Worship Flavia Nassuna Matovu from the Inspectorate of Courts; Ms. Harriet Angom, a Senior State Attorney from the ODPP and Ms. Noeline Naggayi, a Legal Officer with the Refugee Law Project and LASPNET Youth Anti-Corruption Award Winner for 2018. The key highlights from their discussion were; ensuring active participation and sensitization of the public in the implementation of the Police Anti-Corruption Strategy; the ODPP noted that PROCAMIS is still centralized and that there are still technical challenges in rolling it out to regional stations. Furthermore, the Judiciary appreciated LASPNET for the balanced review of its performance through highlighting good practices among their staff amidst poor facilitation and committed to close the existing gaps; while LASPs urged other institutions engaged in the graft war to not accept defeat but join hands for better results.

Ms. Rachel Odoi-Musoke, the Senior Technical Advisor (STA) at the JLOS Secretariat, in her closing remarks commended the spirit of partnership and friendship displayed by LASPNET in pointing out the bad and good practices as well as supporting improvements among the sector institutions. She also appreciated the Network’s role in the ongoing process of drafting and developing the National Legal Aid Law. The STA shared that during their recent visits to the sector institutions to assess their integrity, the same challenges highlighted by LASPNET research were reported by their officers including payments for bail, bond and overstay on remand in police cells, among others. Regarding delay in domestication of the JACS 2012, the STA reported, “Our target is to have all institutional plans approved by June 2019 so that it’s implementation cuts across for meaningful assessment in future” She committed to ensure that JLOS institutions embark on implementation through the various structures, sensitization of the masses and report back to LASPNET on the progress but also urged for the dissemination of the report to all the sector institutions.

All stakeholders present at the launch appreciated LASPNET’s civil society perspective on the implementation of the JACS 2012 and this triggered a debate that would inform development and implementation of new and existing strategies.

As a way forward, participants agreed that; the fight against corruption should match emerging trends; to ensure efforts should go beyond JLOS to include other sectors and accountability institutions; the mitigate challenges encountered before automation to guard against being carried forward in ongoing implementation process; continuous sensitization is key but should go beyond mere dissemination of IEC to utilizing joint efforts of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to directly sensitize the public; and that urged the Retired Officials of integrity to form part of accountability committees.

LASPNET appreciates the DGF for the financial and technical support provided in the development of this research a well as other various interventions of the Network aimed at improving legal aid accessibility and Access to Justice for the most poor and vulnerable in the Country.

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