Special court launched to punish water, power thieves

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Kampala. The Judiciary has officially launched a specialised court that would, among others, try people arrested over illegal water and power connections that have become rampant across the country.
The new specialised court dubbed Standards, Wildlife and Utilities Court, will be operating from Buganda Road Court in the heart of the city.
So far, three judicial officers at the rank of magistrate have been designated to handle cases in the specialised court.
They include James Ereemye Mawanda (Chief Magistrate), Gladys Kamasanyu and Agnes Mangeni, both at the rank of Grade One Magistrates.

Apart from dealing with the aforementioned cases, the court will also deal with wildlife poachers, those involved in adulteration of goods such as cement and illegal communication networks.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, who officially launched the new court on Friday, said cases accruing from that area had been previously handled in a general manner without being fast-tracked.
“Cases accruing from this area of the law have previously been handled by the courts generally across the country. There has been no fast-tracking, no uniform sentencing, no monitoring and evaluation mechanism in the handling of these cases,” CJ Katureebe said.

He added: “It has, therefore, been difficult for us to assess how effectively or efficiently we have been performing in that regard. It is, however, easy to conclude that we have been performing miserably. By invoking the intrinsic benefits of specialisation, we want to realise a turn-around in this area of access to justice.”
The Chief Justice also encouraged the designated magistrates to always benchmark and do research so that they are abreast with the law.
Speaking at the same launch, Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine gave a brief history of how this court was hatched.
He explained that a team from National Water and Sewerage Corporation approached him and asked him to fast-track cases involving water theft.

Justice Bamwine added that he immediately consulted the Chief Justice and Chief Registrar, who bought the idea of creating a specialised court and that the rest is history.
Further in his remarks, Justice Bamwine asked the designated magistrates to serve the litigants diligently and with a smile on their faces since most of them come to court with problems and that they should not add an insult to their problems.
He also asked the magistrates not to only think of imprisonment of the offenders but also sentence them to a fine, which money he said will go into the boosting of the economy.

Specialised courts
The Standards, Wildlife and Utilities Court is the latest specialised court to be set up by the Judiciary after the Anti Corruption Court that deals with corruption-related cases and the International Crimes Division of the High Court that deals in terrorism related cases, trafficking in humans and cases under the Rome Statute.

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