Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has appealed to legal service providers and Legal Aid Associates to work toward extending these services to rural areas where they are currently scarce.
Speaking at the grand opening of the Legal Aid Innovations Conference 2017 at Hotel Africana this afternoon, Katureebe quoted recent research which shows that 80% of advocates in the country are based in urban areas.
“A report by The Hague Institute for Innovation and the Law (HiiL) on Justice Needs 2016 revealed that 88% of Ugandans experienced difficulty in accessing justice in the past four years with land and family cases being rated as the top two most critical disputes,” he said.
The study according to the Chief Justice, found the justice system complex to navigate, expensive and in many cases not capable of producing fair outcomes. This report attributed this lack of accessibility to both physical and functional constraints.”
He added that the Justice and Law Order Sector (JLOS) annual report 2014/ 2015 estimates that only 18% of Ugandans receive legal aid services annually.
This leaves the majority, especially the poor and most vulnerable, unable to access justice.
On the challenges affecting the Legal Aid program in the country Katureebe pointed out that the field suffers from limited funding, shortage of legal practitioners in rural areas and lack of regulation due to absence of a legal aid policy, a legal aid law and any institution to enforce standards of service delivery
Justice Remy Kasule from Court of Appeal called upon all Universities that offer Law courses to set up Law Clinics through which they can directly participate in solving community problems.
He further called upon the concerned authorities to ensure that the Legal Aid program moves hand in hand with Justice Centres because the two are inseparable.
Various legal Aid Providers who include Public interest Law Clinic (PILAC), National Union of Disabled Uganda (NUDIPU), FIDA, Law Development Center (LDC) Legal clinic and African Prisons Project took part in the event and showcased and interacted with participants on their duties regarding Legal Aid projects.