41 Districts Lack Prosecutors – DPP

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Justice Jane Frances Abodo, has expressed concern about understaffing in her office, revealing that approximately 40 districts do not have prosecutors. Abodo pointed out that while the judiciary has been hiring judicial officers regularly, the number of state attorneys doesn’t match the pace of recruitment.

She emphasized that ideally, there should be more prosecutors than judicial officers. This would ensure there are enough personnel to handle tasks such as reviewing case files, providing legal advice, and representing the prosecution in court.

These remarks were made during the induction and swearing-in ceremony of 100 newly appointed state attorneys in Kampala. Abodo explained that they currently lack prosecutors in 101 courts, and despite the recent recruitments, they are primarily strengthening existing DPP offices.

In response to questions about whether the understaffing affects the 48-hour rule for producing suspects in court, Abodo acknowledged that it’s challenging to observe this rule given the circumstances. Suspects may take advantage of the situation.

Abodo highlighted that the Office of the DPP last hired prosecutors in 2015 and has been operating with a structure designed for 300 prosecutors, even though an approved structure calls for 800 prosecutors.

Addressing the new prosecutors, Abodo, who has been a prosecutor for 24 years, urged them to maintain professionalism, integrity, and hard work. She emphasized the importance of maintaining a high level of ethics, especially since prosecutors’ salaries are now tax-exempt.

Among the new prosecutors is former Rwampara Member of Parliament Vincent Mujuni, also known as Kyamadidi. David Wajambuka Giboyi, the Assistant Commissioner of Human Resource Management in the Office of the DPP, noted that the new prosecutors have a six-month probation period. After this period, they will submit reports for confirmation.

Wajambuka advised the new prosecutors to communicate with their superiors if they are unable to work, especially in case of illness or bereavement. He also encouraged them to prioritize their prosecution work over returning to their previous jobs.

During the ceremony, Deputy DPP John Baptist Asiimwe urged the new prosecutors to approach their work with dedication and passion, emphasizing the need for resilience and commitment in this challenging and sensitive field. Asiimwe outlined their responsibilities, including sanctioning criminal charges against accused persons referred by the police to any court where they are deployed.

He also warned against instituting charges in military courts, emphasizing that this falls outside their jurisdiction. He stressed that only the DPP has the constitutional mandate to withdraw or discontinue charges against accused persons. Challenges faced by the DPP’s office include poor transportation, understaffing, stagnant work placements for over ten years without promotions, and inadequate remuneration.

However, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recently announced a tax waiver on prosecutors’ salaries and a salary increment to improve their welfare. The Justice Ministry has also assured prosecutors of the government’s commitment to enhancing their well-being.

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