State attorneys under their umbrella body, the Uganda Association of Prosecutors (UAP), are demanding for Covid-19 allowances and personal protection equipment (PPEs), claiming they are highly exposed to the virus.
The prosecutors who deal in criminal matters across the country, said in a press statement that they are concerned issued about the increasing number of their colleagues who are getting infected with Covid-19 during the course of their duties.
The statement doesn't reveal how many prosecutors have been infected, but it says that last month, one of their colleagues, state attorney Isaac Omyulo who was based in Mbale succumbed to the deadly virus on June 18.
"We have also had cases of Covid-19 infections in several offices including at head office, Rukungiri, Mbarara, Nabweru, Makindye etc which interrupted office operations, fortunately, some of the affected persons have since recovered while others are still undergoing treatment," reads the statement in part.
The statement adds: "The development, however, points to more serious issues affecting prosecutors across the country, some of which have been discussed with relevant authorities such as ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Attorney General, office of the speaker of parliament, ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, Public Service among others."
The prosecutors state further that as frontline workers in the justice, law and order sector (JLOS), they are disappointed over government's oversight in catering for the prosecutors in the Covid-19 supplementary budget, a step which has reportedly handicapped the operations of members.
Parliament in February this year, passed a supplementary budget of Shs 292 billion - most of which included money to purchase Covid-19 vaccines and face masks by the ministry of Health among others.
However, the prosecutors say, that unlike other stakeholders in the criminal justice system including police, prisons and the judiciary, they have remained unattended to despite being the 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 December 2020, High court civil division judge Musa Ssekaana ordered government to honour its promises to increase prosecutors' salaries and also improve their welfare. The ruling arose from a case in which the prosecutors sued government over breach of a 2017 commitment that they had signed with UAP a few days after their sit-down strike.
The government had pledged to increase their salaries, waive tax on it, provide professional and responsibility allowances and also help in fast-tracking the passing of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Bill within a period of 90 days.
But to date, nothing has ever been implemented. The prosecutors now want government to fulfill its obligations, commitments and assurances to them before matters go out of hand. They also want to be given personal protective gear, funding for regular operational and logistical requirements.