Uganda - Judicial system
In 1995, the government restored the legal system to one based on English common law and customary law. At the lowest level are three classes of courts presided over by magistrates. Above these is the chief magistrate's court, which hears appeals from magistrates. The High Court hears appeals and has full criminal and civil jurisdiction. It consists of a chief justice and a number of puisne justices. The three-member Court of Appeal hears appeals from the High Court. A military court system handles offenses involving military personnel. Village resistance councils (RCs) mediate disputes involving land ownership and creditor claims. These councils have at times overstepped their authority in order to hear criminal cases including murder and rape. RC decisions are appealable to magistrate's courts, but ignorance of the right to appeal and the time and cost involved make such appeals rare. In practice, a large backlog of cases delays access to a speedy trial.
Although the president retains some control of appointments to the judiciary, the courts appear to engage in independent decision-making and the government normally complies with court decisions. Uganda accepts the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice with reservations.