MUSEVENI CORONAVIRUS ORDERS: HERE’S HOW COURTS WILL OPERATE, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO PRISONERS, REMANDEES, JUDGES & STAFF
By Mulengera Reporter
Chief Justice (CJ) Bart Magunda Katureebe has announced a raft of the Judiciary’s administrative and contingency measures aimed at keeping Coronavirus at bay as Uganda intensifies efforts to prevent the deadly disease from spreading to the country.
In a March 19 notice addressed to his deputy Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Principal Judge Flavian Zeija, Justices of the Supreme, Constitutional and High Courts, Secretary to the Judiciary Pius Bigirimana, Acting Chief Registrar Tom Chemutai, registrars, deputy and assistant registrars, magistrates and all judiciary staff, Katureebe issued eight guidelines to be followed by courts of law in the 32 days of partial lockdown announced by President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday.
Although Uganda has no confirmed case of the viral disease that has so far killed over 9,000 people and infected more than 220,000 worldwide, her neighbors, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and DR Congo, have reported cases.
As a preventive measure, Katureebe announced the suspension of all court hearings and appearances starting Friday, March 20. He has advised lawyers and parties whose cases are at the stage of submissions to “file written submissions.”
The guidelines issued by the head of the judicial arm of government also touched on the fate of prisoners and remandees, such as presidential hopeful Lt Gen (Rtd) Henry Tumukunde currently facing treason charges.
“Where possible, proceedings may be done via video link,” advised Katureebe.
However, courts will be allowed to handle some urgent and serious cases, but only a few people will be allowed in court.
“Courts will continue to handle certificates of urgency and taking plea for serious cases and bail applications. Only the applicant and his/her lawyer, or in the case of bail application, the sureties will be allowed in Court,” directed the CJ.
The Chief Justice has also ordered judicial officers and staff to keep working, further instructing all judges and magistrates with pending cases to “use this period to complete them” even when open court appearances have been banned.
“Where possible, judgements and rulings may be issued to the parties online or via mail,’ guided Katureebe.
Meanwhile, all staff, judicial officers and those allowed to access court premises will be required to clean their hands using sanitizers, as well as undergo checks using digital thermometers that will be deployed at all temples of justice.
CONFERENCES, FOREIGN TRIPS
The CJ has suspended all local and foreign conferences, meetings, workshops and training programmes for one month. In addition, all foreign travel will be limited to cases involving “exceptional circumstances.”
Katureebe also informed the Judiciary “these guidelines may be revised from time to time in accordance with the national policy directives.”
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