The Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe has said normal court operations throughout the country will only resume after the opening of public transport.
In line with the presidential directives on the prevention and mitigation of Coronavirus in Uganda, the Chief Justice suspended court hearings and appearances whereas the number of people in court rooms was also restricted.
However, in the revised contingency measures, the Chief Justice has said the earlier measures will remain in place until public transport resumes.
“Partial court operations are hereby reinstated while observing the Presidential Directives and Ministry of Health (MOH) Guidelines and Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs) as indicated hereunder,” said Katureebe in a May,27, 2020 circular.
“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.”
The Chief Justice in the circular says that criminal cases shall continue being restricted to plea taking for Magistrates Courts, bail applications and plea bargains across the board, and appeals for the appellate courts.
“These restrictions shall remain in force until prisoners are able to be produced in Courts.”
According to the head of the judiciary, 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.
Katureebe however urged judicial officers to continue writing and delivering judgment and ruling during this period as they wait for the normal resumption of court operations.
In the circular, Katureebe also said that during this period, each judicial officer shall handle not more than five cases cause listed per day.
“Only four people should be allowed to attend court in small Court halls and 10 people in bigger Court halls. All Court staff (Judicial and non-judicial) and court users must wear face masks while at Court premises,” the circular further reads.
The Chief Justice reminded court staff, advocates and litigants to always observe the standard operating procedures issued by the Ministry of Health while accessing court premises that include among other undergoing temperature measurements and sanitization.
“Social distancing should be observed at Court Registries – one person should be served at a time and the rest wait outside the Registry at a social distance of four meters apart.”
Public transport is expected to resume on June 4 according to President Museveni’s address last week.