DPP Abodo ‘deeply’ concerned by prosecutor shortage in Uganda

DPP Abodo 'deeply' concerned by prosecutor shortage in Uganda
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Jane Frances Abodo on 5th October, 2023 deployed and flagged off 100 recently recruited State Attorneys

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Justice Jane Frances Abodo, has expressed her concern regarding the shortage of staff in her office, revealing that around 40 districts are currently without prosecutors. Abodo highlighted that although the Judiciary has been steadily recruiting Judicial Officers, the recruitment of State Attorneys has not kept up with this pace.

She stressed the need for a greater number of prosecutors compared to Judicial Officers to ensure there are sufficient personnel for tasks such as reviewing case files, providing legal advice, and representing the prosecution in Court.

These concerns were raised during the induction and swearing-in ceremony of 100 newly appointed State Attorneys in Kampala. Abodo pointed out that there is still a shortage of prosecutors in 101 Courts, and despite the recent recruitment efforts, the focus has primarily been on strengthening existing DPP offices.

When asked about the impact of understaffing on the 48-hour rule for producing suspects in Court, Abodo acknowledged the challenges in adhering to this rule under the current circumstances. Suspects may take advantage of the situation.

Abodo highlighted that the Office of the DPP last hired prosecutors in 2015 and has been operating with a structure designed for 300 prosecutors, even though an approved structure calls for 800 prosecutors.

Addressing the newly appointed prosecutors, Abodo, who has served as a prosecutor for 24 years, encouraged them to maintain professionalism, integrity, and a strong work ethic. She emphasized the importance of upholding high ethical standards, particularly now that prosecutors’ salaries are tax-exempt.

Among the new prosecutors is former Rwampara Member of Parliament Vincent Mujuni, also known as Kyamadidi. David Wajambuka Giboyi, the Assistant Commissioner of Human Resource Management in the Office of the DPP, explained that the new prosecutors will undergo a six-month probation period, after which they will submit reports for confirmation.

Wajambuka advised the new prosecutors to communicate with their superiors if they encounter difficulties in their work, especially in cases of illness or bereavement. He also encouraged them to prioritize their prosecution duties over returning to their previous jobs.

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During the ceremony, Deputy DPP John Baptist Asiimwe urged the new prosecutors to approach their work with dedication and passion. He emphasized the need for resilience and commitment in this challenging and sensitive field. Asiimwe outlined their responsibilities, which include authorizing criminal charges against accused individuals referred by the police to any court where they are deployed.

He also cautioned against initiating charges in military courts, emphasizing that this falls outside their jurisdiction. He clarified that only the DPP has the constitutional authority to withdraw or discontinue charges against accused individuals. Challenges faced by the DPP’s office include inadequate transportation, understaffing, stagnant work placements for over ten years without promotions, and inadequate remuneration.

However, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recently announced a tax exemption on Prosecutors’ salaries and a salary increase to enhance their well-being. The Justice Ministry has also assured prosecutors of the government’s commitment to improving their welfare.