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Judiciary Resumes Criminal Trials amidst Tight Guidelines

The Acting Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo on Tuesday issued additional operational guidelines which will be followed by both judicial officers and advocates while conducting trials in this period of COVID-19 pandemic.

A few months back, the former Chief Justice Hon Bart Magunda Katureebe had suspended hearing of all criminal cases in line with the Presidential directives on COVID-19 which prohibit the gathering of many people in one place.

“By the powers conferred upon the Chief Justice under Article 133 of the Constitution of Uganda, I do hereby issue the following additional guidelines for the conduct of all criminal session,” he said.

All courts will resume with criminal sessions in observance of Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs.)

“All participating courts shall conduct pre-session meetings with stake holders like ODPP, Police, Prisons and advocates to agree on operation procedures,” Justice Dollo said.

He went ahead and ordered that all pleas and fixing of dates for trial shall be done at prison facilities via audio visual technology while observing SOPs from the Ministry Of Health.

“Pre trial cases conferencing shall be done for all cases to determine among other matters relating to witnesses evidence and trial period.”

During the hearing of these cases, members of the public will not be allowed to attend court sessions except the witnesses, complainants and other relevant actors.

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In  March when the lockdown was declared , the judiciary came out with clear guidelines to be followed during various sessions and these have been undergoing amendment  on various occasions.

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