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COVID-19: Lawyers set up fund for struggling colleagues

By Andante Okanya

Added 20th April 2020 11:49 AM

It was prompted by the 21-day extension of the government lockdown precautionary measures. The 21 days that went into effect on April 15, will elapse on May 5.

COVID-19: Lawyers set up fund for struggling colleagues

Lawyers have set up a private emergency relief fund to assist struggling colleagues. (File photo)

It was prompted by the 21-day extension of the government lockdown precautionary measures. The 21 days that went into effect on April 15, will elapse on May 5.

HEALTH  COVID-19  RELIEF

KAMPALA - Lawyers have set up a private emergency relief fund to assist struggling colleagues. So far, sh10m has been raised with contributions of varying amounts from several individual members of the Uganda Law Society (ULS).

The emergency relief fund is targeting sh20m by the end of today (Monday). The initiative is codenamed ‘COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for Lawyers'.

It was prompted by the 21-day extension of the government lockdown precautionary measures. The 21 days that went into effect on April 15, will elapse on May 5.

Assumpta Kemigisha Ssebunya of Ssebunya & Turyagenda Advocates is chairperson of the fund. 

In a statement, Ssebunya noted that members of the ULS have been giving in their donations through mobile money.

The convener is a lawyer and executive director of Legal Brains Trust, Isaac Ssemakadde. Both have contributed sh1m each.

"Based on the requests that we have so far reviewed, there are hundreds of people - from young lawyers to seniors and their families that were caught off guard by the pandemic and they are going to need our support," said Ssebunya. 

"So I beseech the more resilient colleagues from the Law Society and the wider community to help us raise the money to support those that need it the most."

An 11-member countrywide goodwill committee has been established to swiftly fundraise for the initiative.

A statement from the committee notes that distress reports were gathered across a spectrum of lawyer membership forums. The committee has vowed to keep all requests and disbursements strictly confidential.

Ssebunya explains that it is evident the pandemic has created a tri-dimensional problem; health, mental and economic crisis for vulnerable lawyers.

The committee laments that lawyers have been excluded from the vulnerable group that will benefit from the food and essential items distributed by the government.

How to contribute
Well-wishers have been requested to send cash contributions to the fund treasurer, lawyer Sylvia Namawejje Ebitu on 0700305059 (Airtel) or 0772364114 (MTN).

Disbursement
According to the committee, payment not exceeding sh500,000 shall be instantly remitted to the cell phone of an eligible beneficiary. One can only benefit once. 

Recipients have been instructed to take a screenshot of the mobile money message acknowledging fund receipt.

"The Committee will decide how much to avail to each person, bearing in mind the size of the trust fund, the cost of living in the respective regions, and the principles of equity, equality and non-discrimination," the statement reads in part.

The initiative will also seek services of expert psychiatrists and other counsellors to deal with the psycho-social effects of the unprecedented pandemic.

Qualification for beneficiaries
The only requirement is the ULS identity card and badge of honour. Eligible members are expected to exercise individual integrity and request assistance only when in need. 

 

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