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Development Partners, JLOS Team Pay Courtesy Call on ACD
Hon. Justice Gidudu with Development Partners and JLOS Team the Anti-Corruption Division

An 11-memberdelegation comprised of Development Partners and technocrats from the Justice, Law and Order Sector Secretariat led by the Senior Technical Advisor, Ms Rachel Odoi Musoke, on Wednesday (September 30,2020) paid a courtesy call on the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court.

The group wanted to experience firsthand how the graft court is operating in the wake of theCovid-19 pandemic and assess areas where there can be interventions to improve delivery of justice.   

They interacted with the head of the Division, Hon. Justice Lawrence Gidudu, Hon. Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga and Magistrate Grade One Sarah HW Namusobya-Mutebi who represented the Chief Magistrate.

Hon. Justice Gidudu shared some of the challenges the Court is encountering in trying to adjust to the new normal while adhering to the Standard Operating Procedures.

He explained that the lack of a teleconferencing facility at the court had affected trials. "We need teleconferencing facilities so that we are able to interact with prisoners mainly for the purpose of conducting trials given restrictions in physically accessing accused persons."

In relation to conducting online trials, Hon. Justice Gidudu expressed concerns of the prisons not having enough room to simultaneously hold several cases.

He called upon JLOS to empower prisons with a teleconferencing facility as one of the ways to ensure timely service delivery.

Hon. Justice Gidudu said because the justice system is largely paper-based, this poses a threat to all who come to contact with documents in the chain. He recommended electronic transmission of documents by as one of the ways to minimize the risk of transmission of Covid-19. 

He pointed out that the court still operates in rented premises which are not suitable for court operations. "The office space is small and the court halls are equally small without a proper court setup adding that the initial plan was to shift the court JLOS House, but 10 years down the road, this has not been actualized." 

Hon. Lady Justice Okuo equally stressed the need for a dedicated teleconferencing facility.

She said that the Court was helping prisons to ensure that they conduct hearings through Zoom, but this still had its own challenges. 

Hon. Lady Justice Okuo said this was the only intervention since production warrants are not effective anymore in the "new normal".

Hon. Justice Gidudu urged JLOS to provide frontline justice institutions tele-conferencing equipment as they all strive to deliver justice in the Covid-19 era.

He also called for the enactment of an enabling law on asset recovery. 

Dr Kartia Kerschbaumer, the Government Advisor at the Austrian Embassy, thanked their Lordships for the candid interaction. She said as Development Partners they had taken note of the challenges of the specialized court. 

Dr Kerschbaumer said E-justice was important and needed innovation not only as a result of Covid-19 but due toits immense benefits. These include timeliness, enhanced security and minimized human interaction. 

The Deputy Senior Technical Advisor at the JLOS Secretariat, Mr Sam Wairagala, said JLOS was developing a management system which would address some of the concerns raised by court. He said the Sector was providing four video conferencing facilities to Judiciary but hastened to add that they would not dictate on which courts these would be allocated to. 

The delegation was composed of representatives from UNDP, UN Women, UNICEF, Austrian Development Cooperation, Netherlands Embassy and UN Office on Drugs and Crime as well as senior leadership at the JLOS Secretariat.

Posted 30th, September 2020
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