Julia Sebutinde

Julia Sebutinde is Judge of the High Court of Uganda and was the first African woman to sit on the World Court.

Early life

Julia was born in Uganda and began her career in law with an LLB at Makerere University, graduating in 1977 and achieving her Diploma in Legal practice from the Law Development Centre of Kampala in 1978. From this time until attending the University of Edinburgh for her Masters in 1990, Julia was employed by the Ministry of Justice in Uganda. Here she worked diligently but earned little and baked on the side to supplement her income.

Julia Sebutinde
Julia Sebutinde

Making a difference

After graduating from Edinburgh in 1991, Julia worked in the UK for the Ministry of Commonwealth and then joined the Ministry of Justice in the Republic of Namibia before being appointed Judge of the High Court of Uganda in 1996. In this role she led several corruption enquiries into government departments, including the Ugandan Police, the Uganda People’s Defence Force, and the Uganda Revenue Authority.

Her work did not go unnoticed and in 2001 Julia was given a Special Award by the Ugandan Law Society in recognition of her contribution to the promotion of justice in Uganda. This was followed by the “Good Samaritan Award” at the Congress of Advocates International in 2004 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Uganda British Alumni Association in 2006.

Secondment in Sierra Leone

After a number of years as High Court Judge Julia was given a secondment in 2005 and appointed a member of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, established by the UN to prosecute individuals involved in violations of humanitarian law during the Sierra Leone civil war. Julia was appointed as the presiding judge in the prosecution of Liberian President James Taylor who was found guilty of 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2012. 

During this time, in recognition of her work and contribution to International Justice Julia was awarded an honorary LLD by the University of Edinburgh in 2009.

Breaking records

Finally, in 2011 she was elected to a judicial seat on the International Court of Justice where she still serves. Julia is the first African woman to sit on the court.

Julia's profile on the International Court of Justice website