By Anthony Wesaka
State prosecutors have accused government of ignoring them during the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The prosecutors under their professional association the Uganda Association of Prosecutors (UAP), claim to be the core frontline workers in the criminal justice system and yet government has never released any supplementary budget to support them like other justice players.
"As frontline workers in the justice law and order sector, we express our disappointment over government's oversight in catering for the prosecutors in the Covid-19 supplementary budget, a step which has handicapped our members' operation," the statement released last evening by the prosecutors read in part.
"Unlike other stakeholders in the criminal justice system, including the Police, Prisons and the Judiciary, who were catered for in the past Covid-19 supplementary budgets, prosecutors have remained unattended to despite being frontline workers in the justice sector. To make matters worse, there have been further cuts in the quarterly release of the new financial year. This has significantly impacted on the delivery of criminal justice to the nation," the statement further reads.
In their statement signed off by Mr Timothy Amerit, the general counsel and Mr Kukundakwe Arthurton, the secretary general, they contend that in the past months, their colleague Isaac Omyulo, based in Mbale, succumbed to the deadly Covid-19 virus with many others, falling sick at different duty stations such as Nabweru, Makidye, Rukungiri, and the head office.
They added that this development, however, points to more serious issues affecting prosecutors across the country, some of which have been discussed with relevant authorities such as the Justice ministry and Speaker's offic, among others.
"UAP calls upon the top management of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to address the issue of covering risks for our members who are exposed to Covid-19 during the course of their duties," they say.
They also complain of government not adhering to a court ruling that ordered the enhancement of their welfare following their strike, a few years ago over poor welfare.
When contacted last evening, DPP Jane Frances Abodo, said: "What the prosecutors have stated is true. The Office of the DPP budget was cut due to shortfalls in revenue and requirements for the Covid-19 response.
As a result, the institution is unable to fund regular operational and logistical requirements planned for the first quarter of the financial year and to respond to Covid-19 issues that are bound to arise given the fact that prosecutors are frontline workers in the criminal justice system."