Ethiopian Federal Courts have resumed full service as of today, June 20, 2020. The courts that have been under partial closure since mid-march 2020 because of the Novel Coronavirus are resuming to full operations while taking necessary precaution and social distancing measures.
Federal Judges have also returned to their regular working hours and will prioritize cases in reviewing cases that had were delayed because of their partial closure.
For the past two months, Federal Courts paused ongoing litigations and rejected new files while only entertaining cases that they deemed urgent.
The partial closure of the courts was taken when the government took strong measures and was taken together with the closing of schools, limiting religious gatherings, postponing large gatherings, and cancelation of sporting events.
While the initial closer was intended for only 15 days, the decision was extended as the pandemic was still dangerous.
However, as the pandemic continued to spread, the court believed that it couldn’t continue to close its doors with no clear timeline as to when the epidemic would be over.
In addition, the court also took into consideration the number of cases that would pile up as the courts remain closed.
For such reasons, the Federal Supreme court enacted a new directive that will govern what cases are to be entertained, how the court sessions are to be conducted, and what precautions measure to take in such proceedings.
From July 20 to August 6, 2020, judges will only see cases that had already been filed. Citizens can’t sill file new lawsuits in this period. However, the directive provides a list of exceptions for judges to accept new charges in this period.
Cases relating to the abuse of human rights, public peace, and security, domestic violence, children, junction, and RTD can still be filed at the Federal courts.
Starting from August 7, 2020, federal courts will resume full operation and start accepting new charges.
In the Ethiopian Judicial system, courts are closed during the Ethiopian winter time. But, because of the current situation, the courts won’t be closed during this year’s wintertime, and Judges will remain working in August.
The Federal Execution courts have also resumed service. However, judgments related to eviction and auction of properties won’t be executed as the Federal Supreme Court found these measures endanger public health.
The opening of Federal courts comes a day after when the country recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases in one day, 702. The total number of cases reported in Ethiopia has also passed the 10,000 marks.