By Watchdog reporter
There is a looming crisis at Ugandan courts as over 400 state attorneys threaten to freeze business at the temples of justice.
According to a source in the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, who represent the state in court trials, attorneys are threatening to lay down their tools unless government raises their salaries, or removes taxes from their income.
Without state attorneys, no trial can take place in court, as they provide the link between the investigating and judges. The state attorneys prosecute the offenders on behalf of government.
However, the state attorneys who fall under the office of the DPP, are unhappy with the treatment as they are the only group in the justice sector who pay taxes.
“Our colleagues in police, judiciary and prisons don’t pay taxes. But our salaries are taxed, which is discriminatory since we are in the same line of work, and offering service to government.
Watchdog understands that the entry level salary for state attorneys is about Sh800,000, however, our source says state attorneys say that is meager compared to the work they render.
“Can you imagine an enforcement officer at KCCA earns triple what we are offered, and yet we handle the built of prosecution work!” she wondered, adding, “even if you compared the facilitation the office of the Inspector General of Government is given, DPP is given peanuts and yet we do work on the daily basis.”
Efforts to reach Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Justice Mike Chibita were futile as his known telephone number was not going through.
However, our source says state attorneys are unhappy with Chibita who they accuse of not understanding their working conditions.
This is the matter that will be addressed by the executive meeting of the Uganda Association of Prosecutors (UAP), a body that brings together all public prosecutors that work under the DPP.
The meeting will take place on June 17, 2017, and it will resolve issues including the DPP who is hired from the Judiciary and therefore works on different terms from the prosecutors he leads who are typical civil servants.
The prosecutors accuse Mr Chibita’s management of stagnating the restructuring exercise which would have enhanced the welfare of prosecutors. Mr Chibita is also accused of failing to pursue the enactment of an enabling law for the DPP as mandated under article 120 of the Uganda Constitution which gives the DPP independent powers and to run the institution as an independent entity. Our sources say this would enable the DPP office to run as independent entity and therefore allow it to determine lucrative remuneration package for its staff.
Watchdog understands that prosecutors are bitter that their counterparts in the IGG office earn almost three times the pay for state attorneys and are better facilitated and remunerated yet they play a major role in the prosecution of corruption related cases than the IGG office pointing to the convictions by DPP of people like Kazinda Godfrey in he Office of the prime minister corruption scandal as well the pension scam by the ministry of Public service among other high profile cases.