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KAMPALA—The Deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo has temporarily assumed the office of the Chief Justice pending the appointment of a substantive holder of the third arm of government.

The former Chief Justice, Bart Magunda Katureebe handed over the office peacefully on Monday morning after five years at the helm of the judiciary upon clocking the mandatory retirement age.

“I wish to take this opportunity to thank you all collectively and individually for the
cooperation and support you have rendered to me, and the Judiciary as an institution during my tenure in office. It has indeed been a great honour and privilege to work with you all,” Katureebe said in a short letter of appreciation to stakeholders

“I believe that together we have registered some achievements in the Administration of Justice in the Country. I would urge all to extend the same support to the in-coming Chief Justice,” said Justice Katureebe.

 

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DOWNLOADStatement from the Judiciary on the Justice Katurebe's Retirement

 

 

 

Published: June 20, 2020

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Outgoing Chief Justice Bart Katureebe got the perfect send-off when President Yoweri Museveni assented to the Administration of Judiciary Bill, 2018 to make law.

 

Parliament early this month passed the bill that guarantees the independence of the Judiciary as the third arm of the State under the doctrine of separation of powers and on Friday, June 19, 2020, Museveni appended signature to it to ensure it becomes law.

 

 

About the Law

 

The new law provides for and strengthens the independence of the Judiciary.

 

The Administration of Judiciary law operationalizes provisions of the Constitution relating to the Judiciary, administration of justice, improve efficiency and effectiveness of the courts, strengthen the independence of courts, and streamline their administration.

 

The law also creates guidelines and references for a legal and justice system by spelling out jurisdiction divisions, conditions for trials, sentencing, and court fees.

 

 

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DOWNLOADAdministration of Judiciary Act of 2020

 

 

 

Published: June 19, 2020

 

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KAMPALA - Normal operations in the Courts in Uganda shall have to wait until the general opening of public transport, the Chief Justice, Bart M. Katureebe, has said. The directive was contained in the Revised Contingency Measures to Prevent and Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19 in the Judiciary Circular issued on May 27. “Partial Court operations are hereby reinstated while observing the Presidential Directives and Ministry of Health (MOH) Guidelines and Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs) as indicated hereunder,” said the Chief Justice.

“Courts shall continue to hear only applications and urgent matters until there is a general opening up of public transport. Upon the easing of the general public transport, courts shall resume normal hearings in civil matters.

“Criminal cases shall be restricted to: plea taking for Magistrates Courts, bail applications and plea bargains across the board, and appeals for the appellate courts. These restrictions shall remain in force until prisoners are able to be produced in Courts,” reads the CJ Circular in part.

The head of the Judiciary further stated that the use of audio-visual facilities shall continue alongside other modes of conducting hearings – determined by the head/in-charge of a specific Court/Station.

He also urged all Judicial Officers to continue writing and delivering judgments and rulings during this time.

 

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Published: May 28, 2020

 

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By Timothy Lumunye

In line with the standard public health guidelines, Uganda had to institute a partial lockdown of the country when it was confirmed that there was an outbreak of COVID-19 within the country. When the lockdown was instituted only “essential” services were allowed to operate, those deemed basic and yet indispensable without which the nation would collapse.

Indeed the COVID-19 pandemic means we are wading in uncharted waters. But with no vaccine in the near future and with the number of patients increasing by the day, there is no way of predicting how long the lockdown will be in force, or how long it will take for judicial work to return to “normal”. This article therefore examines existing interventions in the administration of justice, challenges and how the pandemic presents an opportunity for access to justice through LC Courts.

 

Current efforts by the Judiciary

The Judiciary was listed as an essential service but would only hear remands, urgent mentions, bail and other very pressing interlocutory applications. Court registries were directed to stay open but only for the purposes of filing new suits. Even then extreme social distancing was to be practiced by all participants to the court process. To mitigate this, the Chief Justice issued the “Guidelines for on-line hearings in the Judiciary of Uganda”. The Guidelines indicate that online hearings may be used for inter alia, delivering of judgments and rulings, plus the hearing of bail applications, mentions and interlocutory applications. Attendance/participation is by invitation through a Judiciary provided link. The hearing of these matters is not exclusively limited to the online option though and in some cases, advocates and parties appear in person before the judicial officer.

These efforts are building upon a foundation set by other recent Judiciary interventions.  For example the installation of a Video Conferencing Facility between Buganda Road Court and Luzira Maximum Prison (Male and female Wing), Kigo Government prison and Kitalya Government prison.  Initially it aimed at handling cases at mention stages especially in very sensitive cases that require a high level of security where transporting the accused persons to Court may cause security threats to the entire public or unnecessary cost.  

 

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Editor's Note: The writer is a Magistrate Grade 1, Courts of Judicature. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

 

Published: May 18 , 2020

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Saturday, 18 April 2020 14:09