KAMPALA – Courts in the country have embarked on online hearings following guidelines issued by the Chief Justice, Bart M. Katureebe, on April 29 as one of the measures to help the courts function better during the ongoing national lockdown to curb the spread of Corvid-19.
The guidelines entailed under Office Instruction Number 2 of 2020 will ensure timely delivery of judgments and rulings, hearing of bail applications, case mentions and issuance of orders. They also entail how parties relevant to the cases are invited and how they will attend online hearings. Invitations will be done through email, Whatsapp or through the Judiciary’s Online Hearing Tool.
This means that all accused persons who had previously failed to apply for bail due to measures put in place by Uganda Prisons Services can now apply for bail online.
The new guidelines are in line with the laws of Uganda, including the Constitution, the Data Protection and Privacy Act of 2019, the Computer Misuse Act of 2011, the Electronic Transactions Act of 2011 and the Electronic Signatures Act of 2011, as well as court rules and directions such as the Judicature (Video-Audio Link) Rules and the Constitution (Integration of ICT into Adjudication Processes for Courts of Judicature) Practice Directions of 2019.
The hosts for the court sessions will be Judiciary’s ICT Department that will coordinate with each court to identify parties, register their accounts, invite them and guide them on how to effectively participate in the proceedings.
The hearings will be scheduled and as such all participants will be expected to keep time. The participants for online hearings will include; the Judicial Officer handling the case, clerks assigned to the case, advocates of the parties, the parties to a case, the media and any other interested party. The record of proceedings for the online hearings will be generated by the Judiciary ICT Department from the recording done during the hearing.
Signed copies of Judgments and rulings will then be electronically sent to parties as one of the efforts to promote social distancing during the pandemic.