In a statement to the fraternity dated April 23, 2020, ULS president Simon Peter Kinobe, commends the initiative, codenamed ‘COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for Lawyers’.
Uganda Law Society(ULS) has endorsed a private members initiative to provide relief to colleagues struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement to the fraternity dated April 23, 2020, ULS president Simon Peter Kinobe, commends the initiative, codenamed ‘COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for Lawyers'.
The fund convener is Isaac Ssemakadde, a lawyer and executive director of Legal Brains Trust. The chairperson is Assumpta Kemigisha Ssebunya of Ssebunya and Turyagenda Advocates
Kinobe notes that the COVID-19 aftershock, has extensively morphed into financial strain for several fraternity members, especially young advocates who depend on daily earnings for survival.
"The ULS Executive Council supports and joins effort with the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Committee for advocates which has been set up by some members and is managed by a 12-member goodwill," notes Kinobe.
"Section 3(c) of the Uganda Law Society Act gives the society acting through the Executive Council the mandate to represent, protect and assist members of the legal profession regarding their conditions of practice."
Kinobe stresses that the clause takes into consideration members' welfare, more so in the unprecedented COVID-19 situation.
The ULS has requested the Attorney General(in capacity as the Head of the Bar, senior fraternity members and well-wishers to contribute.
He has commended those who have so far contributed. Kinobe who has made a personal contribution of sh1m, says the philanthropists will be recognised at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The countrywide goodwill committee has instituted fund access mechanisms, and pledged to provide full accountability. Ssemakadde and Ssebunya, were the forefront benefactors with sh1m each.
All beneficiaries promptly registered their acknowledgement of fund receipt as well as gratitude and commendation for the Convener, Goodwill Committee and the esteemed donors.
The Chairperson personally called some of the requesters to explain the Committee's decisions.
On Monday, sh1.56m was disbursed by the fund to clear part of the medical bill of Moses Kuguminkiriza.
A trio, from the group named Moses' Angels', also ULS members, comprising senior counsel Francis Gimara, Primah Kwagala, and an anonymous, jointly raised a donation of sh1.26m.
Free counselling for lawyers
A press statement from Ssebunya dated April 22, 2020, says the Goodwill Committee approved three counsellors who have agreed to provide 24/7 cost-free and highly confidential service during this difficult period.
These are Gloria Kembabazi of Reciprocity (0782055717, 0755649047), Jimmy Odoki of Heart Sounds Uganda (0776893345), and Emmanuel Ssekidde of Hillside Recovery Home (070893310).
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).
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.
The only requirement is ULS identity card and badge of honour. Eligible members are expected to exercise individual integrity and request assistance only when in need.