A critical analysis on plea bargaining in criminal justice in Uganda

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Kampala International University,School of Law
The study critically analyzed plea bargaining in criminal justice in Uganda, it was guided by the following objectives to evaluate the consistence of Uganda's transitional justice legislation and practice in relation to international crime with its obligations under international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law in general and the Rome Statute in particular; to establish the efficacy of plea bargaining in dealing with international crime, and explore the potential application of plea-bargaining as a restorative justice tool in Uganda's transitional justice. The idea of 'justice" normatively reflects "justitia" in the Roman worldview: 'fiat justitia, ruat caelum" (may there be justice though the heavens fall). That is, justice must prevail no matter whose ox is gored. In its corrective schema, justice is connected to the ideas of just desert. Justice in this sense is possible through a just law couched within the principle of retributivism (where punishment is proportionate to the severity of crime). This idea must remain intact if criminal justice, as a form of social control, is to attain the moral and political legitimacy to which it aspires. Unfortunately, these ideals are constantly at risk in Uganda's criminal justice system, especially in the prosecution of corrupt crimes where convictions have largely been plea bargained. Plea bargaining exploits the insubstantiality of Uganda's criminal codes and its proponents argue from a cost-benefit analysis stance that pits cost against justice. This prima facie approach inexorably leads to the following questions: what are the requirements of justice? Is criminal justice concerned with justice to the offender or victims of crime? Is a court ruling necessarily just? The paper attempts to answer these questions in showing that justice transcends mere court rulings and is underpinned by certain moral ideals: a moral operating principle of the judicial process and the degree to which a people or victims of crime perceive their penal system as just. The current application of plea bargaining in Uganda's fails to satisfy these moral requirements of justice.
A research dissertation submitted to the School of Law in fulfillment of the requirements for the award of a Bachelors Degree in Law of Kampala International University
plea bargaining, criminal justice, Uganda