In a January 29th, 2021 circular, Justice Owiny-Dollo says that due to COVID-19; where possible courts shall designate a separate temporary space in the registry to specifically receive election petitions.
The Attorney General William Byaruhanga and the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo
Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has issued new directives to court users involved
in election petitions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a January 29th, 2021
circular, Justice Owiny-Dollo says that due to COVID-19; where possible courts
shall designate a separate temporary space in the registry to specifically
receive election petitions.
This he says
is meant to promote social distancing and observance of the Standard Operating
Procedures- SOPs to contain the spread of COVID-19.“Each
Judicial Officer shall not handle more than two election-related cases caused
listed in a day at a specific time, one after another.
The number of people in
the court shall be limited to only parties to the case, their advocates and
specific witnesses as and when required”, reads the circular in part. Adding that, “witnesses will make written statements/witness
statements/affidavits and only come to court in a phased manner for
confirmation of their evidence, cross-examination and
He says “…where parties exceed ten in a single election petition, the
trial Judge or Judicial Officer shall conduct a trial using Audiovisual
facilities or use one of the spaces at the court premises if possible.” In the four-page circular, the chief justice also lays down
procedures that will be followed by the media for proper coverage of the election
He says that in the event a Presidential Election Petition is
filed, the media interested in covering the proceedings shall be accredited by
the Chief Registrar, Sarah Langa Siu. “Upon accreditation, the journalists shall report to the Judiciary Principal
Communications Officer for guidance on how to cover the proceedings in a manner,
which is not prejudicial to the trial processes”, reads the circular in part.
Adding that, “All journalists involved in covering the proceedings of
other election petitions shall liaise with the registrars and chief Magistrates
in charge of stations of the respective courts for guidance in that exercise”.
The Chief Justice has also directed judicial officers handling civil, criminal
and execution matters to continue observing SOPs as earlier directed in various
circulars in 2020. The directive comes at the time when Uganda has lost
340 people to the COVID-19 pandemic and registered 3,956 positive cases,
according to the Health Ministry statistics released on January 28th,