Luwero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The planned operationalization of the Luwero High Court has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Luwero High Court is one of the 20 Courts that were designated in 2016 under the Judicature Statutory Instrument No. 55 of 2016. However, to date, the court had failed to start operations due to the failure by the Judiciary to post a resident judge due to lack of resources.
In January this year, the Judiciary announced that effective July 1, Luwero high court will start operations to handle cases from Luwero, Nakasongola, and Nakaseke districts.
However, nothing had taken place at Luwero Chief Magistrate Court which will host the high court.
Samuel Munobe, the Luwero Chief Magistrate says that a committee formed by Judiciary visited Luwero town council and resolved that the High Court starts operations in premises that he currently uses after failing to get a suitable building for rent.
Munobe added court files in the different specialized High Court Divisions in Kampala have been identified and they are in the process of forwarding them to Luwero to start operations.
Munobe says that they are waiting for the judiciary to post the judge and other staff to start operations.
Jameson Karemani, the Public Relations Officer of Judiciary says that the delay is due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown.
He however noted that immediately after the lockdown is relaxed, the Judiciary will deploy a judge and start operations as other requirements are put in place.
Erastus Kibirango, the LCV Chairperson of Luwero district says that they are hopeful that the operationalization of the high court will ease access to justice.
Kibirango says that residents have been wasting resources and time to travel to High court Kampala to file cases.
Recently, the Principal Judge Dr Flavian Zeija said the resources that were previously dedicated to the High Court Execution and Bailiffs Division would be used to operationalize the Luwero High Court Circuit starting July this year.
The Execution and Bailiffs Division was wound up following numerous complaints about its operations from the court users.
The Luwero High Court is expected to hear among other cases, the election petitions against Katikamu North Member of Parliament Denes Sekabira, Bamunanika County MP Robert Ssekitoleko and Katikamu South MP Hassan Kirumira.
In June this year, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo suspended the hearing of all court cases including election petitions for 42 days.
According to the circular, Owiny-Dollo said that the suspension was done in line with the directives issued by President Yoweri Museveni on June 6th, 2021 for prevention and mitigation of the spread of COVID-19.
The Judiciary also scaled down operations to 30 percent physical presence and only critical staff were maintained at the court for the filing of cases as well as other work. Currently, 14 High Court Circuits are operational and these include Arua, Fort Portal, Gulu, Jinja, Kabale, Lira, Masaka, Masindi, Mbarara, Mbale, Mpigi, Mubende, Mukono, and Soroti.
Besides Luwero, five other High Courts Circuits of Hoima, Iganga, Moroto, Rukungiri, and Tororo remain non-operational over logistical challenges.