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Normal Court operations to wait – Chief Justice

FILE PHOTO: Chief Justice Bart Katureebe

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Normal operations in the Courts in Uganda shall have to wait until the general opening of public transport, the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, has said. The directive is contained in the revised contingency measures to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Judiciary circular issued on May 27.

In the circular, the Chief Justice said that the courts shall continue to hear only applications and urgent matters until there is a general opening up of public transport. Upon the easing of the general public transport, courts shall resume normal hearings in civil matters.

He said that criminal cases shall be restricted to plea taking for Magistrates Courts, bail applications and plea bargains across the board and appeals for the appellate courts and adds that the restrictions shall remain in force until prisoners are able to be produced in Courts.

In the meantime, the use of audio-visual facilities shall continue alongside other modes of conducting hearings – determined by the head or in-charge of a specific Court or station. He also urged all Judicial officers to continue writing and delivering judgments and rulings during this time.

“Partial Court operations are hereby reinstated while observing the Presidential directives and Ministry of Health guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures as indicated hereunder,” said the Chief Justice.

During this time, each Judicial officer shall handle not more than five cases cause listed per day and only four people should be allowed to attend court in small court halls and 10 people in bigger court halls.

All Judicial and non-judicial Court staff and court users must wear face masks while at Court premises, and shall observe the standard operating procedures as established by the Ministry of Health while accessing Court premises including undergoing temperature measurements and sanitization.

He adds that social distancing should be observed at Court registries with only one person served at a time and the rest wait outside the Registry at a social distance of four meters apart. The In-charge of Courts and stations are advised to determine the number of staff to report on duty on a rotation basis, in line with standards operating procedures issued by the Ministry of Health.

The Chief Justice said the latest guidelines are additional to others in circulars he issued on March 19, 26, April 29, and May 5, 2020, subject to amendments from time to time “in line with the National Health Policy”.

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