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Director of Public Prosecutions Addresses Understaffing Issue in 41 Districts

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Jane Frances Abodo - Director of Public Prosecutions Addresses Understaffing Issue in 41 Districts
Jane Frances Abodo - Director of Public Prosecutions Addresses Understaffing Issue in 41 Districts
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The Director of Public Prosecutions, Justice Jane Frances Abodo, has expressed her worries regarding the shortage of prosecutors in her office. She disclosed that nearly 40 districts in Uganda are currently without prosecutors. According to Abodo, while the judiciary has been actively hiring judicial officers, the recruitment of state attorneys has not kept up with the same pace.

She stressed the importance of having more prosecutors than judicial officers to effectively handle tasks like reviewing case files, providing legal advice, and representing the prosecution in court.

Justice Abodo made these remarks during the induction and swearing-in ceremony of 100 newly appointed state attorneys in Kampala. She noted that even with the recent recruitment efforts, there is still a lack of prosecutors in 101 courts. This deficiency has raised concerns about the ability to adhere to the 48-hour rule for producing suspects in court, as suspects may exploit the situation.

Abodo also highlighted that the Office of the DPP has not hired prosecutors since 2015 and is currently operating with a structure designed for 300 prosecutors, while the approved structure calls for 800 prosecutors.

During the ceremony, she advised the new prosecutors to maintain professionalism, integrity, and hard work, particularly since prosecutors’ salaries are now tax-exempt. Former Member of Parliament Vincent Mujuni and others were among the newly recruited prosecutors.

David Wajambuka Giboyi, the Assistant Commissioner of Human Resource Management in the Office of the DPP, mentioned that these new prosecutors have a six-month probation period. Afterward, they will submit reports for confirmation.

Wajambuka encouraged the new prosecutors to communicate with their superiors in case they are unable to work, especially due to illness or bereavement. He also urged them to prioritize their prosecution work over returning to their previous jobs.

Deputy DPP John Baptist Asiimwe also addressed the new prosecutors, emphasizing dedication and passion in their work. He outlined their responsibilities, including sanctioning criminal charges against accused persons referred by the police. He warned against instituting charges in military courts, stressing that this falls outside their jurisdiction. Only the DPP has the constitutional mandate to withdraw or discontinue charges against accused persons.

The challenges faced by the DPP’s office include poor transportation, understaffing, stagnant work placements without promotions for over ten years, and inadequate remuneration. However, there have been recent positive developments, including a tax waiver on prosecutors’ salaries and a salary increment announced by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to improve their welfare. The Justice Ministry has also assured prosecutors of the government’s commitment to enhancing their well-being.