The Judiciary is headed for yet another understaffing gap following the official retirement of it’s five Judges and eight lower cadres who include Deputy Registrars and Magistrates.
The Judges who were officially retired from the Judiciary on Friday night at a Dinner held at the Judiciary headquarters include Supreme Court Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi, High Court Judges, Lady Justice Jane Kiggundu, Asaph Ruhindi who has been the head of the Industrial Court, Justice Joseph Murangira and Justice Tonny Vincent Okwanga.
These were retired alongside, Deputy Registrars Sarah Ponye and Ayo Miriam Eddy Okello.
Others included Chief Magistrate Moses Baligeya Mufumbiro, Grade One Magistrate Fred Gidudu and Grade Two Magistrates Tusiime Anania , Edephonese Rutajegwa and Francis Ojikhan.
The group which was retired alongside 36 administrative staff had spent more than 20 years in the Judiciary and were given accolades and certificates for their distinguished services in the judiciary.system.
While speaking at the dinner, Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera appreciated them for having always respected their work when they were still with the judiciary, despite having gone through tough times.
He encouraged them to write their stories and jurisprudence in autobiographies so that the future generation read them for reference.
According to Buteera, that will help the judiciary to tap and benefit from the experiences and expertise.
Butera remembers how difficult it was by the time he and others joined the Judiciary which was ill-funded. He cited an incident when he had been given two reams of paper and while on his way to Soroti, he was asked to return one to be given to Justice Kiiza Akiiki who was from Kasese.
Buteera further narrated what he described as a nasty experience of working in Mengo Court when he board taxis with the accused persons he would have at times denied bail and they recognize each other in the same taxi.
He said he also remembers Justice Okwanga when he was still a State Attorney prosecuting 400 people in one day. It is such stories and experiences that Buteera wants to be documented by the retiring judicial officers so that people don’t think they are fictitious.
He revealed that Judiciary in its transformation agenda is promoting Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms such as Mediation, Arbitration, Reconciliation, Plea Bargain, and Diversion in Juvenile Justice among others.
Noting that those mechanisms will require experienced and seasoned personnel who have stature and respect in society and encouraged the retirees to obtain training in those areas so as to benefit the mechanisms even in their retirement.
Justice Asaph Ruhindi asked for judicial officers to always be calm while handling the cases before them adding that the people they Judge also Judge them.
He asked the Judiciary to always work together with them even after retirement. He however expressed dismay that the Permanent Secretary could not sign for him documents when he wanted to a recommendation for visa to travel abroad.
Lawrence Opolot Okim, a driver who was also retiring asked the judiciary to put them back on insurance cover saying that they are struggling to pay medical bills in retirement.
He said the insurance got expired immediately when they retired.
The retirement age of High Court Judges is upon clocking 65 years while Supreme Court Justices retire at the age of 70.
Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has been appealing to government to increase the retirement age by five more years.