A group of lawyers, under Uganda Law Society (ULS) have launched a member-driven emergency fund to help members, who have been hit hardest by the lockdown.
This comes days after President Museveni extended the Covid-19 lockdown for more 21 days and over a week after Saturday Monitor published a story titled: ‘Lawyer earns night in jail for begging food from Museveni’ on April 12.
In the story, the 34-year old Brian Bakampe, spent a night at Kampala Central Station after he attempted to camp at the Presidents Office in Kampala. He said he wanted the President to help him with some food since he had eaten whatever he had in the house.
“Things took a frightening turn when that story ran, and I defended Mr Bakampa against a shameful smear campaign that some colleagues had naively kick-started in one post titled ‘I am Bakampa’,” Mr Isaac Ssemakadde, the executive director of Legal Brains Trust, said.
It was after this that some members encouraged him, as a public interest lawyer, to initiate a trust fund for Mr Bakampa and others trapped in a similar situation.
The team of 10 lawyers convened by Mr Ssemakadde, noted the emergency fund was also responding to several other reports that have indicated that a number of other young are struggling through the lockdown.
“Several ULS members on digital platforms have continued to raise an alarm about another pandemic; the mental, health and economic toll of staying at home, depression and hopelessness, among other issues,” Mr Ssemakadde said, adding it was, therefore, imperative to acknowledge and attend to the crisis members of the legal system.
Although a taskforce was created at the national level to coordinate the distribution of food and essential items to the most vulnerable communities, members argue that reports indicate that lawyers are excluded.
Mr Ssemakadde made the first contribution of Shs1m. Others, include Ms Assumpta Kemigisha Ssebunya, the managing partner of Sebunya & Turyagyenda Advocates, who will provide leadership and guidance.
The fund will take in all forms of donations with cash donations being centralised to the fund’s chairperson, Hope Atuhaire. It seeks to raise Shs300m and a Goodwill Committee with representatives from different regions has already been setup. Disbursements not exceeding Shs350,000 will be remitted to beneficiary identified by a Committee.
Source: Daily Monitor