Murder cases dominate Moroto High Court


Youth take part in a traditional dance in Karamoja. Net picture.

Badru Afunadula

Crime and criminal activity has been with mankind almost from the beginning of time but it is the nature of the crime that always sets the criminal apart.

In the far northeastern sub-region of Karamoja violence was long a sad reality of life in this area which remains the most undeveloped backwater in Uganda. As successive governments neglected the place, so did unmitigated conflict ravage the land and its peoples.

Where the proliferation of illegal weapons had made Karamoja a deadly environment, today murder is the dominant crime.

Killings have replaced the armed cattle rustling, inter and intra-clan conflict between the many sub-ethnic groups, highway robbery and other forms of anti-social behavior which had made Karamoja a no-go area.

Then the government, in 2001, rolled out forced disarmament of the warrior communities to recover the illegal weapons which had made Karamoja extremely insecure.

It also began to collaborate with non-state actors to bring change here, encouraging alternative socio-economic activity in place of the traditional criminal pastime of rustling hile promoting education.

Now, what little progress has been is being threatened by a new form of violence – brutal killings.

It has gotten to a point where majority of cases before the High Court in Moroto are about murder.

According to Moroto Chief Magistrate, Charles Yeteise at least 50 cases have been cause-listed for trial at the High Court sitting in Moroto.

Of the 50 cases, 25 are murder cases, 15 aggravated defilement cases, nine cases of rape and one aggravated robbery case.

Arua Resident Judge, Justice Stephen Mubiru will handle the cases in the next one month.

This is the first criminal session in Moroto in over a year.

The last session in this largely untamed part of the countrywas conducted by Lady Justice Henrietta Wolayo in July 2016.

Arua’s Judge Mubiru to hear Moroto’s murder cases. Photo by Badru Afunandula.

Meanwhile, the 50 cases are just a small portion of the seven-year case backlog before the Moroto High court.

According to Chief Magistrate Yeteise, there are 249 cases which have been committed to the court for trial.

He says the cases, which date as far back as 2011, were recorded from Moroto, Napak, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Kotido, Abim and Kaabong districts in Karamoja sub-region.

Andrew Napaja Keem, the Moroto District chairman, has appealed for expeditious trial of inmates, pointing out that delayed trial creates laxity especially among witnesses.

Judge Mubiru in his remarks at the opening ceremony for the long overdue High Court session called for cooperation from stakeholders to help dispense justice to the Karimojong community.




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