Judiciary wants child testimony law amended               

Judiciary wants child testimony law amended         

 

A team of five justices of the high court want the laws governing child testimony amended in order to reduce case backlog in the courts of law.

 

Justice John Wilson Tsekooko, Egonda-Ntende, David Wangutusi, Stephen Musota and Eva Luswata want section 101 (3) of the Magistrates Court Act (MCA) and subsection 4 of the Trial on Indictment Act (TIA) amended.

 

Section 101 (3) of the MCA provides that where in any proceedings, any child of tender years (below 12 years) called as a witness does not, in the opinion of the court, understand the nature of an oath.

 

The section also stipulates that the evidence can only be received in court if the child is thought to be in possession of sufficient intelligence, but, not on oath.

 

Meanwhile subsection 4 of the TIA states that where a child’s testimony admitted is given on behalf of the prosecution, the accused shall not be liable to a conviction unless that evidence is corroborated by some other material evidence to support the testimony.

 

The justices said that the demand to have children’s evidence in court corroborated is discriminatory, against the constitution and fetters judicial discretion in that court must look for corroboration even if the judicial officer strongly believed the child’s evidence to be truthful.

 

They revealed this during a two days meeting held at Kabira Country Club a fortnight ago, which was organized by the judiciary and the Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC), a government body that is mandated to constantly review the Acts and other laws with a view to making recommendations for their systematic improvement.

 

The meeting was organized in response to Chief Justice Bart Katureebe’s call for judges to make proposals on reforms to streamline the administration of justice.

 

Katureebe in his directives set up a six member committee to scrutinize the gaps and emerging issues in the law. The committee comprised of five Justices and Andrew Khaukha an official from ULRC. The justices include Tsekooko, Egonda-Ntende, Wangutusi, Musota and Luswata.

 

“The current provision creates a situation of giving less weight to the evidence of the child unless corroborated  and yet chances are that the child would be more truthful, the current position  affirms the popular  yet unsubstantiated notion that children are prone to lying, suggestibility, fantasy and exaggeration” Khaukha said during the meeting.

 

On top of the child testimony laws, the team agreed that laws governing local jurisdiction, oath, cross examination, not guilty by reason of insanity, plea bargain and cancelling of bail also need to be amended.

 

During an interview, the Principal Judge, Yorokamu Bamwine, said that these laws need to be amended in order to ensure a speedy handling of the cases that are overwhelming the courts of law.

 

“Judiciary has identified areas within our laws that are partly to blame for delay of cases and we cannot solve them with the same old thinking, hence the need to amend some sections,” Bamwine said.

 

He blamed the increase in case backlog on the use of old laws set in the colonial era that do not meet today’s socio-economic demands. He said these laws need to be amended and tailored to suit the current social economic circumstances.

 

He noted that as at June 2015, the total number of the accused persons committed to High Court for trial stood at over 9,000 and that more suspects continue to be committed for trial while many more continue to be arrested

 

About the Author

has written 12 posts on this blog.

Copyright © 2017 ugandan online radio. All rights reserved.
Proudly powered by karibufm. Developed by KARIBUFM.COM