Decentralization in the office of the director of Public Prosecutions and access to criminal Justice in Mbarara Region, Uganda
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The study investigated the impact of decentralization in theOffice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) on access to criminal justice in Mbarara Region. Specifically, the study sought to: find out the relationship between devolution of planning in the ODPP and access to criminal justice in Mbarara Region; examine the relationship between devolution of supervision in the ODPP and access to criminal justice in Mbarara Region and; find out relationship between devolution of case management in the ODPP and access to criminal justice in Mbarara Region. The study used a cross-sectional survey research design, adopting both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The researcher used a sample of 129 respondents. Simple random sampling and purposive sampling were used. Methods of data collection were self-administered questionnaires and interviews. Pearson‘s correlation co- efficient was used to determine whether there was linear relationship between decentralization of the functions of the ODPP and access to criminal justice. The findings of the study revealed that devolution of planning,supervision and case management positively affected access to criminal justice in Mbarara Region. This was signified in the drop of public complaints made to headquarters by litigants, availability of free prosecution services closer to the people, improved disposal rate for complaints and perusal of files, timely committal of cases, reduced delays caused by movement of case files between stations and improved monitoring and supervision leading to higher efficiency. However, there was limited consideration of regional needs in the ODPP planning processes and budgetingand low public awareness of the functions of the Office and criminal law. This impedes access to justice. It was concluded that prioritising regional needs during planning, empowering officers to effectively monitor performance of their field staff; and facilitating case and complaints management significantly improves on access to criminal justice inMbarara Region. The study recommends that to overcome the shortcomings identified, the process of decentralization should be properly planned and public awareness improved.