Letter to the Editor: President Museveni should take his concerns on Bail elsewhere

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During the swearing in ceremony of the newly appointed Chief Justice and his deputy, their Lordships Alfonse Owiny Dollo and Richard Buteera respectively, President Museveni reiterated his view on Bail, to the effect that those who have allegedly committed serious offences like murder, rape and so forth should not be granted bail by the Courts while investigations are on going.

Whenever President Museveni is to meet men and women in ‘gowns and wigs,’ it is becoming predictable that he can not sign out with out throwing a complaint on the way they are handling the matter of bail.

Bail is a Constitutional right protected by the Ugandan Constitution of 1995 and granted at a Judge’s discretion, but also it moves along with other rights like the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and many others which I won’t delve into in detail for the space does not allow me.

One wonders whether the venue and timing on which the President raises these concerns is appropriate, this is because the cardinal role of the Judiciary is to interpret laws and these laws are made by the Parliament.  Perhaps if President wants Judicial officers to take on responsibilities that are not theirs of then the Constitution should be amended and therein his wishes would be fulfilled, which is which is next to impossible.


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But why should the President be making these statements every other day he meets Judges and other Judicial stakeholders? Unfortunately he is not reminded how the Judiciary works there and then because in most cases he gives them an opportunity to raise their concerns and what we normally hear of is Judicial officers raising, among others,  issues of increasing Judicial officers at various levels and occasionally chipping in on enhancing their pay.

I am not privy to the office of the President but I assume of the many offices under it, there is a legal department and if it is not, at least there is the Attorney General whose duty according to Constitution is to give legal advice to the Government on any subject.

The question then is how comes the office bearer does not carry out his duty to advise the President on the right approach let’s say the appropriate forum on which to raise his concerns? The right forum ideally, would be either Parliament or even the Executive.

Most of the bills are moved by or initiated by and defended in Parliament by Cabinet Ministers, how come they don’t take up the President’s concern and act accordingly? Secondly, the silence from the other arms of government is in direct breach of one of the tenets of Judicial independence ie. that all organs and agencies of the state accord the courts such assistance as may be required to ensure their effectiveness.

Lastly, now that the President is making this call, year in year out, isn’t he likely to be construed as simply making rhetoric or another ritual of sorts, an aspect that doesn’t rhyme well with the Presidency? And, if he is choosing the venue on which he is ‘launching his missiles’ deliberately, then it is the Judicial officers that at the end of the day are left at the “cross” or “fire” as other arms of Government jump out of the frying pan of negative public perception on how the bail is handled yet the blame under normal situation should lie elsewhere!

 


From:

Musekura Kennedy, Law graduate

Kennedyndeze@yahoo.com


 

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