Principal Judge Flavian Zeija on Wednesday issued an ordinance restricting all judges, registrars and assistants, chief magistrates and magistrates 1 and II from retaining National Identification cards (NIDs) of sureties.
It has always been a norm by the courts across the country to ask individuals standing as sureties for accused ones to hand in their NIDs as an assurance that confirms their nationality. Also, NIDs have been acting as one of the conditions to grant bail to suspects. Under normal circumstances, sureties get back their NIDs after the final determination of a criminal case.
However, following several complaints by court users, Justice Zeija noted that the said act of retaining citizens’ national Identity Cards makes them unable to pursue their rights and undertake their obligations as citizens of Uganda.
“Since the law doesn’t require a deposit of the national identification cards of sureties with the court as a condition for grant of bail, this circular serves to forbid judicial officers from continuing with the practice. By this circular, judicial officers ordering the retention of national identification cards of sureties and reminded to make bail orders that reflect the difference between the accused persons and their sureties,” reads the circular.
Zeija also noted that most criminal cases take over a month to be disposed of, yet all Ugandans need NIDs to undertake their day-to-day business however if one stood as sureties for someone he/she will be unable to pursue their rights and undertake their obligations as citizens of this country for as long as their original Identity cards are retained by a court.
“All courts that are holding original identification cards of sureties should review this order to ensure its compliance as soon as practicable in light of the ongoing directive governing court operations during Covid-19 pandemic.”
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