The Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe has said it is time that the judiciary considers prohibiting the media from using cameras in the court rooms, saying there is a common tendency of lawyers and witnesses playing to the gallery.
Katureebe said this Thursday while addressing the press on the sidelines of a training of Judges and Advocates on the recently issued Court Rules and Procedures at Imperial Royale Hotel.
The training was organized by the Judiciary and Uganda Law Society (ULS).
“We need to start having a conversation in this country on the presence of the media, particularly cameras in the courtrooms,” the Chief Justice told reporters.
“In other jurisdictions, they don’t allow cameras in the courtroom. That is why they restrict it to artists making sketches of what is happening in the courtrooms”.
The Chief Justice says that there have been cases where the lawyers and witnesses are preoccupied with acting for the cameras (public) rather than addressing court.
“We have noticed over time that some times, you have lawyers and witnesses not giving testimony or not addressing court but the media. Yet what will eventually decide the case is not what is heard in the media but what the Judge or Magistrate has put on record,” Katureebe noted.
On his part, Simon Peter Kinobe who heads the lawyers’ body in Uganda condemned the lack of professionalism that is slowly eating up the justice system.
“We in the legal professional – both at the bar and the bench, need to reflect on ourselves. We need to start handling court with the seriousness it requires,” Kinobe said.
Kinobe says it is wrong for lawyers and judicial officers to politicize everything in court.
“We should be courteous among yourselves and keep decorum. Because these instructions are instructions of our clients to us to ensure justice is done. It is not personal”.
He added that legal officers should stop using the court to seek popularity. Kinobe as well condemned the lack of professionalism exhibited by some of the lawyers who turn up in court late.
This comes six days after proceedings at the Buganda Road court were characterized by dramatic scenes during the sentencing of academic researcher, Dr Stella Nyanzi. Nyanzi made abusive chants (flashing the middle finger) before she stripped off exposing her breasts to court.
Later, the presiding Magistrate, Gladys Kamasanyu was assaulted by attendees in court who pelted a water bottle at her, hitting her in the face.