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By Timothy Lumunye

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is now a global health emergency, affecting more than a billion people worldwide. In more and more countries, normal life has effectively been suspended, as sweeping measures are introduced to control the spread of the disease by way of ‘lockdowns’, bans on social gatherings, and the closure of public facilities. These measures have also had an impact on criminal justice systems, as access to courts and prisons has come under severe restrictions. The administration of justice cannot come to a total standstill, whatever the circumstances.

It is essential that the Justice, Law and Order Sector continues to carry out essential functions, including the processing of criminal cases, and safeguarding the rights and welfare of accused persons, especially those who are on remand.

The accused persons on remand should be able to participate in criminal justice proceedings in person, and it is especially crucial that they are physically present in the courtroom during trial. This is not possible currently, because of the restrictions imposed by Uganda Prisons, in line with the standard public health guidelines.  The accused absence from the courtroom seriously undermines their ability to participate in criminal justice proceedings effectively, and the exercise of the rights of the defence.

Its high time Uganda Prisons came up with measures to enable inmates on remand attend court proceedings and prevent an unprecedented backlog of cases that could harm the effective administration of justice in the future.  This can be done in a phased manner, by opening up first, less congested Prison facilities. 

The Judiciary has taken extraordinary measures to keep criminal justice systems operational, preventing lengthy delays in criminal proceedings, and ensuring that urgent matters, such pre-trial detention hearings, are not postponed. The Judiciary does not however work in a vacuum and relies on other stakeholders in the Justice, Law and Order Sector (such as Police, Prisons, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions) for it to be effective. With these stakeholders also substantially limited by the lockdown and other COVID-19 related restrictions, court business has literally ground to a halt, in as far as access to justice for accused persons on remand is concerned. 


Timothy Lumunye is a Grade 1 Magistrate at Nateete Rubaga court


Published: 24th March 2021

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KAMPALA -- The Chief Justice, Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo, who also doubles as chairperson of the JLOS Leadership Committee, on Friday presided over his meeting with heads of JLOS institutions. 

They discussed the progress of preparations for the JLOS Joint 25th Annual Government of Uganda/Development Partners Annual Review scheduled for 26th November at Mestil Hotel in Kampala.

The meeting, the first for the Chief Justice since he assumed office in August 2020, was a joint engagement with members of the JLOS Steering Committee, which is responsible for policy formulation, coordination; fundraising, external accountability and quality assurance. The JLOS Steering Committee is chaired by the Solicitor General with the Chief Registrar serving as  Alternate Chair. 

Notably present at the meeting at the Mestil Hotel meeting was the Deputy Chief Justice, Richard Buteera the Solicitor General, Francis Atoke, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Jane Frances Abodo, the Chief Sarah Langa Siu and Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Judiciary, Mr Pius Bigirimana. 

Also present were the officers from the JLOS Secretariat headed by the Senior Technical Advisor, Rachel Odoi Musoke.


By Danielle Nalukenge / Published: 20 November 2020

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Monday, 24 August 2020 12:31

Langa appointed as Chief Registrar


KAMPALA- President Museveni has appointed Ms Sarah Langa Siu as the substantive Chief Registrar of courts of Judicature.

Her appointment is contained in Mr  Museveni's August 14 letter to the  chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Justice Benjamin Kabiito.

Mr Museveni, in the same vein, has also appointed five registrars.

The newly appointed registrars are; Ms Harriet Nalukwago Ssali, Mr Samuel Emokor, Mr Amos Kwizera, Ms Susan Kanyange and Mr Godfrey Opifeni Anguandia.




Published: August 24, 2020

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KAMPALA - President Museveni on Thursday appointed Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo as the new Chief Justice, becoming the 13th Chief Justice since 1962 when Uganda got it's independence.

Likewise, Supreme Court Judge Richard Buteera was appointed Deputy Chief Justice. The two names have since been sent to Parliament for vetting.

Justice Owiny-Dollo has been the Acting Chief Justice since June 20 when then substantive Chief Justice Bart Katureebe retired upon clocking 70 years. 






Published: August 21, 2020 



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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.





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.







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.





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.  


 READ MORE (Download pdf)


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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As one of the measures to curb the spread of Corvid-19 in courtrooms, the Nateete/Rubaga Magistrate’s Court has labeled court seats in conformity with guidelines issued by H.E The President, the Chief Justice and Ministry of Health to curb the spread of Corvid-19.


The head of station, HW Timothy Lumunye said the new arrangements were reached following consultations with the Judiciary members on the National Technical Corona Response Taskforce.


He said, “we have labeled the courtroom seats, using masking tape, in order to comply with the directive by H.E The Republic of Uganda, the Hon. the Chief Justice and the Ministry of Health observing social distance to avoid the spread of Corvid-19 at all courts.”


The Judiciary Public Relations Officer and member of the National Technical Corona Response Taskforce, HW Jamson Karemani, said this initiative will reduce congestion in courtrooms since the number of court users that can fit on the marked seats will be the only ones allowed in the courtrooms.


Ms Maureen Kasande, the Under Secretary and also member of the National Technical Corona Response Taskforce urges court staff to guide court users so that they observe the new regulations. Court orderlies have been equally implored to restrict court users attending court sittings.


Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court has put in place similar measures have to ensure safety of court users as well as court staff.


These measures have been adopted alongside mandatory hand washing at the courts.


The Taskforce members are now encouraging all courts to mark courtroom seats to avoid overcrowding.



Published: April 18, 2020



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#Public Notice

In line with the directives issued by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda on the 18th March, 2020, on the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Uganda, the Chief Justice hereby issues the following circular as guidelines for the operations of all courts in Uganda.

These guidelines may be revised from time to time in accordance with the National Policy directives.






Published: March 20, 2020

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