Courts Close as new Museveni COVID-19 Directives bite

Judicial services have grounded to a halt following the president’s directive suspending non-essential business in the country. The Supreme Court, High Court, Anti-Corruption Court and War Crimes Division were this morning found to be under lock and key.

All judgments and rulings that were scheduled for delivery at the Supreme Court today have been halted until further notice. Our reporter saw a communication sent by the Supreme Court Deputy Registrar, Lawrence Tweyanze to security via Whatsapp stating that the Presidential Directive was self-explanatory and had thus affected court business.  

He explained that another date would be communicated for delivery of the judgments. Key among the rulings that had been scheduled relates to the ejection of six Members of Parliament from newly created municipalities from parliament who wanted a stay of execution of the Constitutional Court decision until the appeal challenging the same is determined.

Electoral Commission lawyer, Eric Sabiiti said he got information about the adjournment at night when he had reached Masaka from his upcountry home. Clients who turned up at the Anti-Corruption Court were also stranded as the registry was locked with no judicial officer in vicinity apart from security.

One of the police officers was seen busy fetching water to ensure that whoever wants to access the court premises first washes their hands. Until Monday, court business was moving on smoothly in line with the directives from the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe issued on March 19th, 2020.  

Katureebe had stopped all court hearings and public appearances for 32 days and clarified that courts would continue to attend to urgent civil matters, take plea for serious criminal offenses and bail applications.  Consequently, the Constitutional Court, Buganda Road and Rubaga Magistrate’s court remained operational.  

The Judiciary Spokesperson, Solomon Muyita told URN that they were equally affected by the presidential directive since the Judiciary wasn’t listed among the essential services. He however, said the Chief Justice has sought guidance from the Prime Minister and will communicate to the public one he gets feedback.

On Monday night, President Museveni for the sixth time in a space of two weeks addressed the nation on more drastic measures the country needs to take to cab the spread of the corona virus pandemic thereby halting all non-essential movements and businesses. Museveni has since advised those with emergency cases to contact their respective Resident District Commissioners for permission to travel. 


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