Created by the Constitution of Uganda, the Judiciary is the system of courts of law where you, or your family or community, can take legal action against a person or entity that you claim to have violated or interfered with your rights, failed to carry out an agreement, caused you loss or damage to your property. The Government also uses the police to investigate crimes such as theft and violence and to bring suspects before the Judiciary for punishment.
It is important for you to know that the Constitution says that in settling disputes, protecting rights and punishing offenders, the Judiciary uses powers owned by the people, and therefore, its decision must reflect the law, values, norms and hopes of the people.
The term judicial officer is commonly used to refer to Justices, Judges, Registrars and Magistrates.
All Justices, Judges, Registrars and Magistrates are required to take the judicial oath on appointment. The judicial oath sets out the principles and honesty foundation for the performance of judicial work. It requires judicial officers to “do right to all manner of people following the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda” and to do so “without fear or favor, affection or ill-will.”
Code of Judicial Conduct
The Code of Judicial Conduct sets out the principles and rules for regulating professional conduct among judicial officers.
Principle One: Independence: This seeks to protect two forms of independence:
- Independence of the judiciary as an institution is an essential principle for maintaining the rule of law. The principle of judicial independence helps maintain public trust and confidence in the courts.
- The individual independence of a judicial officer in the exercise of his or her judicial duties in deciding cases. This protects judicial officers from un- necessary influences, bribes, pressures, threats, or interference.
Principle Two: Impartiality, which means fairness.
This principle is at the center of the work of a judicial officer. It applies not only to the making of a decision by any judicial officer but also to the process by which the decision is made. Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen to be done.
PrincipleThree: Integrity refers to honesty or truthfulness, honor, and reliability. This one is central to the proper discharge of the judicial office. The conduct of a judicial officer must be in such a way that reaffirms public faith in the integrity of the judiciary. Integrity is the foundation of the administration of justice.
Principle Four: Propriety and the appearance of propriety means decency, politeness, modesty, and respectability.
These values are essential to the performance of all the activities of a judicial officer. A judicial officer is required to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all judicial and personal activities.
Principle Five: All persons are entitled to equal protection of the law.
This demands that a judicial officer should accord equal treatment to all persons who appear in court, without distinction or discrimination based on the grounds of sex, color, race, ethnicity, religion, age, social or economic status, political opinion, or disability.
Principle Six: Competence and diligence are essential for the performance of judicial work.
A Judicial Officer must, therefore, give priority to judicial duty over all other activities.
The Judicial Integrity Committee, Judiciary Peer Committee, and the Judicial Service Commission have the responsibility to ensure that judicial officers follow the Judicial Code of Conduct.
You and your community, ought to understand the principles of the code and help the Judiciary and the Commission to regulate the conduct of all judicial officers so that the proper administration of justice is made and the rule of law upheld. It is necessary as well to monitor and observe all serving judicial officers and confirm whether they respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and are answerable to the people in that respect.
You can contact the Judicial Integrity Committee, Judiciary Peer Committee regarding a complaint relating to the Judicial Code of Conduct at:
Courts of Judicature High Court Building Plot 2, the Square P. O. Box 7085, Kampala Tel: +256 (0) 414-344 116 Fax: +256 (0) 414-344 110. Email: info [at] judicature. go.ug Twitter: htt s://twitter.com/JudiciaryUG (@JudiciaryUG)
You should be aware that in case you are not satisfied with the decision made by the court in your case, in most circumstances you have the right to go to a higher court to change the decision. This is commonly known as appealing. This right can only be used within certain periods. It is therefore important that you ask the court or a lawyer about changing the decision and act immediately.
Types of Court and Their Roles
The Constitution of Uganda creates 3 courts. These are:
The Constitution also allows Parliament to establish other courts as it sees necessary. To fulfill this necessity Parliament created:
- Industrial Court
- Magistrates Courts
- Military Courts
- Tax Appeal Tribunals
- Local Council Courts
- Qadhi Courts
Therefore, in Uganda, we have 8 courts of law.