The Chief Justice while addressing lawyers at the annual law conference, which was held in Entebbe at the end of March, blamed Inspector General of Government for condoning corruption among judicial officers.
In her rebuttal, the IGG said that "We shall not prosecute every magistrate who takes a bribe of Shs250,000, prosecution is very expensive and we also have few prosecutors………"
The IGG further stated that prosecuting such cases takes quite a long time thus, she can opt to asking the judicial officer to resign. To me, this is a way of extending an olive branch to the culprits or striking the perpetrators with an iron rod in a velvet glove at the expense of innocent litigants who in turn are likely to lose trust in the judicial arm of government in as far as dispensation and access to justice among the citizenry is concerned.
The IGG, among other functions, is mandated to eliminate and foster the elimination of corruption, abuse of authority and of public office by virtue of Article 225(1) (b) of the Constitution.
When the IGG says that corruption cases of Shs250,000 in form of bribes are not worth prosecuting, then this for the litigants becomes a myth to get justice. This is because it is the money taken from them in form of bribes so as to get judgments in their favour. Since they do not have millions, a corrupt judicial officer will settle for less but it still remains a bribe.
The IGG may put a price tag on the cost of prosecuting a corruption case by a judicial officer but the injustice that is suffered by an innocent litigant who loses a case at the expense of a corrupt judicial officer is priceless and cannot be quantified in any way .
I appreciate the fact that punishment to an offender can be dispensed in various ways. But when it comes to corruption cases, punitive measures have to be taken so as to send a clear message of deterrence to intending perpetrators or other perpetrators who may be corrupt but are just fortunate that they have not been arrested yet.
If a corrupt judicial officer is forced to resign and still enjoys his or her terminal benefits just like any other judicial officer may enjoy as a result of attaining his or her retirement age, it is not punishment enough. Litigants or victims will not in any way be satisfied with this kind of punishment because it does not reflect justice being seen to be done.
We have witnessed scenarios where corrupt judicial officers are transferred or deployed to new work stations as a mode of punishment. Chances are high that they continue with their corrupt tendencies or vices.
My humble appeal to the IGG is to ensure that corrupt judicial officers are brought to book. If she feels that it is expensive to execute her constitutional mandate then we better have another arm of government or institution that will fairly and fearlessly implement the same mandate.
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