Uganda: No Stickers for Lawyers in Lockdown

Government last evening released only 30 car stickers to the staff of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) secretariat across the country to facilitate their movements during the ongoing Covid-19-induced lockdown.

However, the lawyers in private practice were not given express car stickers to move during this period.

Mr Moses Okwalinga, the ULS executive director, told Daily Monitor yesterday that their members, who will need to move in the current lockdown period to attend to urgent matters, will have to apply for car stickers through the secretariat for consideration on a case by case basis.

"They have given us 30 stickers to carry out our operations in all our offices across the country. For our members, they have to submit applications of who needs the car stickers, give reasons why and their location for consideration on a case by case basis," Mr Okwalinga said.

Ms Pheona Wall Nabasa, the USL president, said there are 3,700 advocates with different work schedules hence the car stickers will be given to their members as and when required.

"Because we are 3,700 advocates with different work schedules, the permits will be given as and when they are required by each advocate," she said.

"However, our legal aid project and pro bono vehicles have been cleared to ensure our access to justice work continues. We still believe this is something to be thankful for because lawyers will still be able to work since courts are also only operating at 10 per cent," she added.

The ULS had last Friday, following the announcement of the second lockdown, applied to the Works and Transport ministry to be availed with 300 stickers for their members to enable them move and provide legal service to litigants in courts and police stations.

This was because for the second time running, government had not included lawyers among the categories of essential workers.

"... without these stickers, our members would have to walk miles to be able to give their services in emergency and urgent situations," Ms Nabasa wrote to the Works and Transport ministry on behalf of fellow lawyers on Monday.

Ms Nabasa explained in her letter that owing to the mandate and experience from the past lockdown, access to justice is still an inalienable right and that they as lawyers had to find a way of assisting persons who need legal services.

"While we are conversant of the risks involved, and the evil government seeks to cure, we as ULS, have seen a rise in cases of a criminal nature and we are concerned that without advocates, some inalienable rights guaranteed under the 1995 Constitution will remain unattainable," Ms Nabasa wrote.

By press time, efforts to get a comment from Ms Susan Kataike, the spokesperson of the Transport and Works ministry, were futile.

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