Covid-19 Crisis: EU Roars, Petitions Justice Minister Over Human Rights Violations In Uganda

The European Union (EU) has petitioned the justice and Constitutional affairs Minister Ephraim Kamuntu over the way the government has handled efforts to fight coronavirus where some people had urged that rights of citizens are being violated especially those in prisons.

In a petition dated April 24, 2020 we’ve landed on, EU requested Government to reduce on restrictions and give justice to lawyers  who have not been provided with stickers to enable them to use their private vehicles travel and provide legal representation to their clients.

“Ugandan Lawyers have not been provided with stickers to enable them to use their private vehicles to travel to provide legal representation to their clients. Naturally, we appreciate the need to restrict visitors in order to ensure that prisons, courts and places of detention do not become high risk areas for the spread of the coronavirus. We believe that it should be possible for the authorities to facilitate a system whereby lawyers are able to communicate with their clients in a safe environment so that they can provide legal advice, make bail applications and ensure that their clients’ constitutional rights are upheld while they are in detention,” reads part of the petition.

Part of EU petition reads in part

EU urged government to respect human rights by setting up a working judicial system help and free the inmates in prisons to avoid overcrowding prisons.
“The functioning of the court system in Uganda Through our interactions with the JLOS institutions, we understand that, while in-person hearings are suspended, a skeleton staff is to operate during this period in courts across the country to ensure plea-taking, bail applications and other urgent matters are dealt with. In reality, however, we understand from reports we have received that many courts (in particular outside of Kampala Metropolitan Area) am currently not operational due, in part, to the inability of court officers.”

In the petition, EU further condemns the arrest and detention of thousands of individuals for violating the rules imposed during the COVID-I 9 lockdown saying saying collecting people from different places in confined spaces during this time should be avoided and that it would be reasonable to release suspected petty offenders on police bond or bail mita restrictions are eased and they can be prosecuted through the courts.

“The final issue relates to the reported arrest and detention of thousands of individuals for violating the rules imposed during the COVID-I 9 lockdown. We are concerned by reports that as many as two thousand people have been remanded to prisons turning once again these places of detention into potentially high-risk places for the spread of the virus, in addition to exacerbating the acute congestion in places of detention that the sector is grappling with. We appreciate that the Uganda Prisons Service is taking all necessary measures to ensure hygiene and other preventive measures within prisons. However we believe that collecting people from different places in confined spaces during this time should be avoided and that it would be reasonable to release suspected petty offenders on police bond or bail mita restrictions are eased and they can be prosecuted through the courts,” reads part of the petition.

Part of EU petition reads in part

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