Corruption in the police and criminal courts in Northern Uganda is the system—not the exception. Corruption studies, annual indexes, investigative journalism, and citizen reporting in Uganda are ubiquitous. Yet the enablers and drivers of corruption, and the reasons corruption has been so resistant to efforts to combat it, have received little attention. This paper is the first in a two-part analysis of these drivers, based on qualitative research conducted on the criminal justice elements of the police and courts in Northern Uganda. It explores how corruption functions in the police and courts, why it persists, and the impact it has on the legitimacy of these institutions.
The distinct, yet interrelated, dynamics driving citizen and judicial/police participation in corruption suggest that without a coordinated, multi-level strategy, progress in combatting corruption will be difficult. The second (forthcoming) phase of this research is a mapping of current anti-corruption and justice reform efforts, and analysis of prospects for success, gaps, and potential areas for enhancement, grounded in an understanding of the dynamics of corruption in the sector.