Judicial Officers Trained In Handling Cases Of Persons With Disabilities

The Chief Justice of Uganda Hon. Justice Bart Katureebe has commended the School of Law and the Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL) for working towards ensuring that the issues of persons with disability are adequately addressed in the administration of justice in Uganda.

During the training of Judicial Officers at the Imperial Royale Hotel Friday 26th July 2019, the Chief Justice, who was represented by Esther Nambayo, the Chief Registrar of Uganda’s Courts of Judicature said the Judiciary was very proactive and had hitherto targeted addressing issues of the marginalized groups including the persons with disabilities. He said the rules committee had discussed the guidelines and considered the draft rules.

He encouraged the School of Law, who through the Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL) drafted the guidelines, to undertake further consultations in order to come up with a user friendly guide for the judicial officers to be able ti dispense justice to persons with disabilities.

The Network of Public Interest lawyers in collaboration with the Judicial training Institute conducted the one day training for Judicial officers , civil society and other stakeholders with the objective of building their knowledge, attitudes and skills in area of disability rights and law to enable them infuse the same in their practice.
The training also served as a platform for interface among judicial officers, legal practitioners, human rights defenders and academia on matters pertaining to advancement of disability rights observance in Uganda.  It also helped to enhance awareness about the disability rights, the challenges of Persons with Disability in accessing justice and identify possible solutions;
During the training, the Judicial Officials discussed the Draft Court Rules Governing Procedure for Handling Cases involving Persons with Disabilities and made proposals for improvement in as far as best practices and litigation strategies were concerned.
Dr. Damalie Naggita, the coordinator Disability Rights and Law Project at the School of Law said that despite the fact that International and national Instruments like the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and Article 32 provide for affirmative action for persons with Disabilities, for a long time they have been left behind and needed special protection.

She said the School of Law started on a program of mainstreaming issues of Disability into all teaching modules to step up the sensitization of upcoming lawyers on issues of disability rights.

In the deliberations, participants appreciated that there were indeed glaring gaps ranging from the obvious infrastructural challenges like lack of ramps in almost all court premises and lifts in the storied structures which made accessibility a challenge for the physically challenged persons, to failure to understand some kinds of disability.

Participants shared their experiences in handling such persons, while the advocates with disabilities also highlighted their challenges in the process of undertaking their roles in the face of their Disability.

They called for continued sensitization of the bar and the bench to enable them appreciate the different forms of disability and to determine the kind of approach to use in the face of such persons seeking justice.