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54 trafficked Ugandans died abroad last year

By Leonard Kamugisha Akida,

NATIONAL

A report by the department of human trafficking at Entebbe Airport shows that a total of 54 Ugandans illegally living and working in abroad countries died in 2022.

James Barya, the detective Assistant Inspector in the department disclosed on Friday that most of the cases were of women and young men who were illegally taken out of the country for well paying jobs.

Barya made the remarks during the Entebbe Chief Magistrate Court Open Day that was presided over by the Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera. The court open day is a day when court invites court users and members of the public for an interaction about its operations and hear their concerns.

During the ceremony, Barya told reports that officials at the Airport last year intercepted a total of 1,253 Ugandans who were being taken out of the country illegally.

“167cases were recorded out of which sixty three (63) were investigated. Seventeen cases (17) were taken to court, of which sixteen (16) ended in convictions and one case is pending.” Barya briefed justice Buteera.

He also said that 83 cases were shelved because some of the victims are unwilling to provide information which he says frustrates progress of the cases.

The officer in charge of anti-drug trafficking at the Airport, Detective Assistant Inspector of Police Maxon Katuramu also reported that in 2022, they recorded 17 cases recorded of individuals trafficking illegal drugs out of or via Uganda 13 of whom pleaded guilty while four are still pending in court.

Justice Buteera criticized the practice of judicial officers harassing and mistreating court users stressing that the practice does not make courts friendly to users.

The judge noted that some of the judicial officers have meted harsh and unnecessary punishments while others lacked common courtesy and public relations.

Chief Magistrate Stella Maris Amabilis had earlier on complained that the Entebbe station had limited office and court space, forcing two of the four magistrates to conduct court hearings from their chambers. This Justice Buteera promised would be looked handled.

Charles Mukalazi, the LC III chairperson of Bussi Island complained of residents moving long distances to Entebbe to get justice, to which Justice Buteera assured a magistrate grade one had already been appointed to serve there. The local government has already provided land for construction of court premises, which Justice Butreera urged other local governments to emulate to enable the judicial department adequately serve them.  He said Entebbe was being considered for setting up of a High Court.

Court users complained of their cases being disposed off without their knowledge. But, the Justice Buteera urged judicial officers to always make the next hearing date clear to the litigants. He said the judiciary would further strengthen inspection to address delays and inefficiencies. Many of the complaints pertained to land disputes.

On the issue of case backlogs, Buteera called for alternative dispute resolution before going for lengthy litigation.

Other solutions proposed included taking claims below ten million shillings to the Small Claims Court and those on criminal charges to be encouraged to bargain with the state for smaller sentences in exchange for pleading guilty.   A moot court was acted to show the public how plea bargain works in practice.

Magistrates have also been asked to prioritise cases on the basis of first come first serve and consider vulnerable groups like children, persons with disabilities, the elderly, sick and widows.Follow Us

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Leonard Kamugisha Akida is a Ugandan journalist, founder Parrots Media Ltd and Media Trainer. Kamugisha uses Parrots UG Online Newspaper as a platform to rising and seasoned journalists in East Africa to practice their writing skills and hone their talents in journalism career. Under his stewardship, Parrots UG has shaped the careers of the current crop of journalists in Uganda. I believe, Writing is both a passion and an art, even the best writers have gone a day or two without writing. “Give me a spot of ink and paper, I will write up your minds.” Let's connect:👇👇

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