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COVID-19: Judiciary to handle only criminal cases 

By Andante Okanya

Added 8th April 2020 12:35 PM

The pandemic has halted the hearing of the 220 land cases funded by the government and World Bank.

COVID-19: Judiciary to handle only criminal cases 

A prison warder interacting with Mukulu(right) during the confirmation ruling of cases of murder, treason and aggravated robbery on September 17 last year. The Judiciary is to handle only criminal cases

The pandemic has halted the hearing of the 220 land cases funded by the government and World Bank.

JUDICIARY |  COVID-19

KAMPALA - The Judiciary will only handle criminal cases in magistrates' courts during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Judiciary spokesperson, Jameson Karemani, told New Vision on Saturday that the decision is inevitable due to the pandemic.

"We shall be running cases only in the magistrates' courts because we are receiving from the Police reports of people who had pending cases. We must remain at home.

Once we resume, we shall give them new dates," Karemani, who is also the assistant registrar of the Judiciary Inspectorate of Courts, said.

Bigirimana on thin staff

In a circular from the Judiciary's permanent secretary, Pius Bigirimana, dated April 2, 2020, the staff were directed to work from home. Bigirimana said a select team of officers will be on duty to man the various stations countrywide.

"The rest of the staff should continue working from home and holding virtual meetings. When required in the office or court, you will be contacted through your supervisors and you will be facilitated," he said.

The circular lists 15 officers who were granted vehicle movement permits. These include Bigirimana, Principal Judge Dr. Flavian Zeija, the acting Chief Registrar, Tom Chemutai and principal communications officer Solomon Muyita. The chief magistrates' courts at Buganda Road, Nakawa,

Nabweru and Makindye have also been granted permits and put on standby to handle new criminal cases.

Others are the heads of human resource, accounts and deputy registrar.

Bigirimana said officers excluded from the list, those stationed upcountry and those with pressing matters, should get in touch with the Judiciary operations team.

The upcountry-based judicial officers required in court have been advised to contact the resident district commissioners, who are the overall coordinators of the national task force.

Land court sessions suffer

The pandemic has halted the hearing of the 220 land cases funded by the government and World Bank.

The cases commenced last month and were scheduled to be concluded in two months.

Chemutai had envisaged that each land case would be concluded within three days and would free the economy from impediments.

The acting Chief Registrar has explained that the motive of the sessions was to resolve land disputes that have delayed the implementation of investment and infrastructure projects worth over sh500m.

High-profile cases halted

Several cases had been lined up by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to commence this month.

These include the trial of the Allied Democratic Forces leader, Jamil Mukulu, who is battling charges of terrorism, murder, aggravated robbery and crimes against humanity.

It is purported that between 2011 and 2014, Mukulu and accomplices procured firearms and trained rebels in neighbouring countries.

It is also alleged that he received funding for economic, social, political and religious reasons.

Another case is that of Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere, who is purportedly complicit with 159 others in crimes of robbery, malicious damage to property and terrorism during the 2016 Kasese altercation.

The Thomas Kwoyelo trial at Gulu High Court is also on hold.

He is battling 93 counts of war crimes, including hostage-taking and crimes against humanity, purportedly committed between January 1995 and December 2005.

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