The Judiciary spokesperson, Jameson Karemani, says that as the courts reopen, all court sessions and activities will ensure that there is no physical contact of any kind between the general public and inmates, and no crowding at either prison facilities or at court premises.
The acting chief Justice Alfonse
Owiny Dollo has issued a new set of guidelines for the courts as they resume hearing
of criminal cases. Court hearings and appearances had been suspended after the outbreak
of coronavirus disease in the country four months ago.
According to a circular issued by
the then Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, courts were asked to advise parties to
file written submissions for cases at the state of submissions, while execution
proceedings were indefinitely suspended. During the time, the courts adopted
the use of video link and other virtual communication platforms to deal with
cases involving prisoners and those on remand.
The Judiciary spokesperson,
Jameson Karemani, says that as the courts reopen, all court sessions and
activities will ensure that there is no physical contact of any kind between
the general public and inmates, and no crowding at either prison facilities or
at court premises.
Karemani added that all courts
will be required to hold pre-session meetings involving all stakeholders such
as the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Uganda Prisons Service, the Police,
Judicial officers, probation officers and advocates among others. This is to
enable actors to agree on how long hearing of the case will take based on the number
of witnesses and evidence available.
According to the new guidelines, hearing
of cases that involve many prisoners will be conducted at the prison facilities
and not in the courts.
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Karemani also emphasized that all
court sessions shall be closed to the public with the exception witnesses,
complainants, and other essential actors. He added that under the
new guidelines, prisoners will not be allowed to interface with anyone, including their relatives, with the exception of legal representatives.
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Meanwhile, the judiciary has
started training judges who will be handling Gender-Based Violence related
cases across the country. Karemani said that the judicial officers under
training will serve as facilitators to special hearings on GBV cases.