In April 2020, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni appointed High Court Judge Jane Frances Abodo the Director of Public Prosecution replacing Justice Mike Chibita who had been appointed a Supreme Court Judge.
She assumed office on April 22, 2020 and promised a number of reforms aimed at improving performance in this office as well as easing the process of dispensing justice to prevent case backlog.
In her message released on marking 100 days in office on Friday, Abodo applauded various key players who have enabled her to garner a number of achievements during this period.
“I thank members of the top management, senior management and the staff for their cooperation. I also thank our stakeholders for their contributions to the realization of the mandate and vision of the ODPP,” Abodo said adding, “together we can make it.”
“Provision of Criminal Justice requires concerted effort. The ODPP cannot effectively execute and deliver on its mandate in the absence of the Executive, Parliament, Judiciary, the Police, the Prisons, Advocates among others,” remarked Abodo
On assuming office, Abodo promised to consolidate all gains by her predecessors as well as re-tooling, re-organization and re skilling of staff.
Among the achievements she has managed to register include; putting much emphasis on reduction of case backlog which is one of the biggest challenges in Uganda’s judicial system. This has been done through a number of ways like plea bargaining sessions.
Between the month of June and July 2020, the ODPP was involved in plea bargaining camps at Masindi, Nakasongola, Gulu, Mbarara and Masaka Prisons where 503 convictions were registered.
In the normal circumstances, this could have taken High Court 12 sessions to dispose of these cases in a period of more than two months.
Several cases which had been committed to High Court have been reviewed and withdrawn to ensure that only deserving cases remain in the system as a tool for reducing case backlog.
The team instituted to handle this matter has so far handled the committed cases of Jinja (338 cases where 38 were withdrawn), Kampala (486 cases where 14 cases were withdrawn).
The same team is currently handling Masaka Region cases and will later review Mbarara Region committed cases.
Capacity building of staff; ODPP is in the process of engaging with the Judicial Training Institute to sign a memorandum of understanding to provide hands-on training to prosecutors.
ODPP introduced a new title of Chief State Attorney which was passed and 29 officers were promoted to this new rank after emerging successful in the interviews which were conducted by the Public Service Commission towards the end of June.
On marking 100 days in office, Abodo launched the first issue of ODPP newsletter aimed at profiling and publicizing events that have happened in this office and it will be issued quarterly.
During her first days in office, Abodo has held a number of engagements with donors and other stakeholders to forge a way forward on how to improve performance in the ODPP.
Among the key partners she has met is the Irish Ambassador, His Excellency William Carlos, the Austrian Embassy led by the Head of Office, Dr. Roswitha Kremser, the Kingdom of the Netherlands Ambassador, His Excellency Henk Jan Bakker and the Principal Judge, Justice Flavian Zeija.
She also met the senior staff from Uganda Police Force, The Uganda Prisons Service, JLOS, UN Women led by Ms. Edekemi Ndieli, the Deputy Country Representative UN Women, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights led by Mr. Robert Ayeda Kotchani among others.
In 2018, President Museveni appointed Jane Frances Abodo as a justice of the High Court from the Office of the DPP.
Before that appointment, she had served as the Head of Anti-Corruption Prosecution department for 8 years where she handled a number of high profile cases including the Ministry of Public service Pension scam involving the loss of 88 billion shillings.