Uganda has announced a cautious easing of the nationwide lockdown with restrictions on the number of lawyers who can work.

President Yoweri Museveni said only 30 lawyers under the Uganda Law Society will be added onto the list of essential service providers.

The president also imposed the mandatory wearing of face masks in public as a control measure against Covid-19.

Ugandans can wear washable, reusable cloth masks that are manufactured locally, he said in a televised address on Monday evening.

Warehouses, wholesale shops, garages, insurance firms are allowed to reopen.

All other lockdown measures, including the closure of international borders, a ban on public and private transport, a ban on gatherings and a dusk-to-dawn curfew remain in place for another 14 days.

Uganda has reported a total of 97 confirmed cases, with no deaths.

Reactions

Lawyers are dissatisfied with the decision by President Museveni to allow only 30 of them to work during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The lawyers, who described the President’s directive as “ambiguous,” argued that he should have recognised all of them (about 3,500) as essential workers rather than applying a piece-meal method.

“Thirty lawyers to work throughout the whole of Uganda! The President should have allowed all of us to work as essential workers if he was really serious. How come he did not give a certain percentage for insurers or those working in garages?” Ms Slyvia Namubiru Mukasa, the executive director of Legal Aid Service Providers Network, said yesterday.

“How about the client-lawyer choice; will they be forcing the few selected lawyers on clients who might not want them? We are not satisfied with this directive and we hope the ULS will challenge this,” Ms Namubiru added.

Mr Anthony Wameli, an advocate whose law firm recently filed a case seeking court orders to recognise lawyers as essential workers during the lockdown, also expressed the same concerns.

“His (Mr Museveni) orders are very ambiguous, 30 lawyers at a time? Which timeframe did he mean? Lawyers neither work at one law firm nor are they in one place at a time. What criteria will ULS be using to pick the 30 lawyers?” Mr Wameli asked.

Adherence

The Judiciary has written to the president of the Uganda Law Society (ULS), Mr Simon Peter Kinobe, to avail them with the list of 30 advocates who will be allowed to represent clients following the presidential directives on Monday.

Mr Tom Chemutai, the acting chief registrar, in a press statement yesterday, said the list was necessary to adhere to the directive.

“During his guidance on the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the President directed that only 30 advocates will be permitted to practice at a time. The purpose of this letter is to request you forward to us the schedule of the advocates choosen to practice in line with the presidential directive,” Mr Chemutai wrote to ULS president.

“The information is required in order for the courts to abide by the directives,” he added.

Ms Pheona Wall Nabasa, the ULS vice president, said they would come up with a fair criteria of picking the advocates.

“While we would have wished for a larger quota, we have to start with what we have been given. The ULS Council will meet today (yesterday) to determine the criteria which we shall share later,” Ms Nabasa said.

Ms Pheona Wall Nabasa, the ULS vice president, said they would come up with a fair criteria of picking the advocates.

“While we would have wished for a larger quota, we have to start with what we have been given. The ULS Council will meet today (yesterday) to determine the criteria which we shall share later,” Ms Nabasa said.

“While we would have wished for a larger quota, we have to start with what we have been given. The ULS Council will meet today (yesterday) to determine the criteria which we shall share later,” Ms Nabasa said.

“We need to be aware that with more than 900 law firms and 3,500 advocates, this will be no mean feat but we promise a fair evidence-based criteria that will serve for now as we appeal for a larger and more representative quota,” she added.

Mr Museveni allowed factories and agricultural firms, among other activities to continue operating

Source: Daily Monitor

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