COVID 19: Lawyers Ask To Drive Cars And For Judicial Process To Continue Normally
Lawyers under their umbrella body, the Uganda Law Society have written to the Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda requesting to be granted ‘special’ status to ‘drive their private vehicles and operate during the COVID-19 crisis’ according to a 29th March letter from the Law Society’s President Mr Simon Peter Kinobe obtained by the Legal Reports.
The Lawyers also want Judicial Process to continue normally.
This comes after President Yoweri Museveni declared a total lockdown of the Country on Monday evening in an effort to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus which has ravaged the world and so far attacked 44 persons in the Country.
Under the lockdown, people to people movement by private or public transport means is strictly prohibited and only restricted to persons or vehicles conducting ‘essential services’.
These ‘essential services’ are medical, veterinary, financial(banks), cleaning, garbage collection, fire brigade, funeral, security, media, telecommunications, emergencies, fuel, public road constructions, [Judiciary] and a few others but do not include legal services.
Now, the Lawyers say, they are ” concerned” that these measures make some of the non derogable rights enshrined in the Constitution unattainable.
” For instance, the right to Habeas Corpus and the right to produce a person in court within 48 hours following their arrest” writes Mr Kinobe in the letter, that he sent to the Legal Reports.
According to the Lawyers, inorder to avoid ‘unnecessary congestion’ of prisons it is important that the “normal judicial process continues”
To this effect, the Lawyers request that Advocates be added to the special category of people authorised to operate during this crisis and that they should all be allowed to use their private motor vehicles.
On Tuesday evening in another address to the Country, President Museveni rather sternly warned against the use of private vehicles and strongly advised transport by foot or bicycles and motorcycles.
” We are cognizant of the directives given by the chief justice that the court should proceed to handle urgent matters together with applications for bail” the Law Society President says adding that;
” Given that arrests and crime are a constant during this crisis, to avoid unnecessary congestion of our prison system and abuse of authority, it is imperative that the normal judicial process continues”
This authorisation, the Society says should be based on proper identification of the Lawyers to avoid passing offs.
” Honorable Prime Minister, the members of the Uganda Law Society have clear identification” Simon Kinobe writes,
” We, therefore, request that this authorisation be contingent on this identification to stop people from abusing this leeway and holding out to be Advocates”
President Museveni on Monday tasked the Prime Minister to address any issues arising out of his directives on the lockdown.
[ Adds on Paragraph 5 – Judicial Services after President Museveni on Tuesday added the Judiciary on Essential Services List but restricted operations to receipt of cases]