Using data to shape the future of justice

Uganda’s Third Justice Needs and Satisfaction Survey Launched by the Principal Judge of Uganda Hon Justice Dr Flavian Zeija

Kampala, Uganda – 21 March 2024 – Today, Uganda marks a milestone in its pursuit of equitable access to justice as it launches the third Justice Needs and Satisfaction (JNS) survey. Conducted by The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) with key stakeholders from the Ugandan Judiciary, the Governance and Security Secretariat, formerly JLOS, and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Honorable Norbert Mao, the survey reflects Uganda’s commitment to develop effective responses that address the daily legal problems faced by its citizens. 

According to the findings, which were presented today at the launch event in Kampala, a staggering 95% of Ugandan men and women encountered at least one legal problem in the past year. While many did find a satisfactory resolution to their problems, 45% did not, highlighting a need for service delivery models that enable people to prevent and resolve legal problems effectively. 

This report, the third of its kind in Uganda, underscores the nation’s pioneering role in data collection. It also aims to serve as a catalyst for change. Collaboration among key stakeholders, including a reference group with representatives from twelve Ugandan justice organisations, has been integral in validating the survey process and its findings. Together, these stakeholders advocate for a data-driven approach to policy-making that prioritises the justice needs of people.

More than 6,000 randomly selected Ugandan individuals participated in the survey, providing invaluable insights into the nature and resolution of legal problems across different demographics and regions. The data collected is aimed at driving improvements in access to justice, guiding policymakers and justice service providers so that they can work on interventions that are fair, effective, and responsive to the needs of people.

The launch event on March 21 in Kampala featured prominent speakers from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Judiciary, and the Embassy of the Netherlands.

H.E Karin Boven, the ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda stressed the significance of the Report.  »The Importance of the Justice Survey can’t be understated, it serves as a tool for justice both to the Government and the justice system. It enables decision-makers to make informed decisions. »

Following the launch, a Justice Leaders Forum was held with the launch participants. This forum serves as a platform for in-depth discussions on the study’s implications, emphasising its critical role in guiding decision-making and setting strategic priorities for the future. As a result, the participants propose actionable recommendations from the JNS data.

Theresa Smout, Programme Director of the Uganda programme at HiiL states, « Uganda has set a precedent as a pioneer in collecting people-centred justice data, and now is the time for action. These results can be used towards tangible measures that enhance people-centred justice – meaning access to affordable, user-friendly justice services for all. »

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