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Law society demands accountability for COVID expenditure

Uganda Law Society president Pheona Nabasa Wall.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The President of Uganda Law Society Pheona Nabasa has called for accountability for funds allocated to deal with COVID-19 and recovery from months of lockdown.

She wants an account for the money passed to boost capacity of hospitals to handle COVID-19 patients and money allocated to boost the economy.

In April, Parliament passed a supplementary budget to combat the COVID-19 pandemic through different government agencies and ministries.

In June, government appropriated more money to the Ministry of Health to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and intensive care unit beds at national and regional referral hospitals.

However, recent media reports showed that Arua Regional Referral Hospital did not receive ICU beds as had been planned. Government later said, eight beds had been delivered but still oxygen cylinders were yet to be installed.

There also emerged reports that government had bought low quality tents that could not even resist a small wave of wind and installed them in Namboole stadium. Nabasa says responsible duty bearers should be held to account for the funds allocated.

Speaking at the launch of the Rapid Legal Response and Emergency Support Policy by the Network of Legal Interest Lawyers at Golden Tulip Hotel, Nabasa thus concluded that corruption is one of the human rights violations that should be fought.

The Rapid Legal Response and Emergency Support Policy is intended to address access to justice especially in circumstances of violations of citizens rights.

Athur Nsereko, the coordinator of NETPIL says they have 30 lawyers who have agreed to work with them to provide legal service to people who might need them.

Nsereko says the teams are dispersed across the country and shall work with other partner organisations to provide not only legal support but psychosocial support to victims of human rights abuse and violations.

Nsereko says they are wary of the current political situation in which people’s rights to freedoms like expression have been infringed upon and worse is expected to happen as the 2021 election days draw closer.

Ivan Bwowe, one of the public interest lawyers says Uganda is facing hard times with the election where people’s freedoms are being violated and abused hence calling for intervention.

He says the work done by public interest lawyers is a good plus to efforts to access justice but called upon other organizations and institutions to fight for justice.

He says government institutions like the Directorate of Public Prosecution-DPP violate people’s rights when they sanction files without evidence and keep people in custody. She says such scenarios should  be stopped if people’s rights are to be protected.

James Mahindo, the chairperson of NETPIL encouraged lawyers to embrace public interest service because it will help them create a difference in people’s lives. He says this is about being humane also adding that it shall demystify the thinking that lawyers are after money and self-enrichment.

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