There is a lot of bogus litigation clogging up the Ugandan Judicial System, thanks to – in part – incompetent lawyers who spam the Courts with mindless cases.
Some of these are so-called “human rights lawyers” who take advantage of the awkward human rights situation in the Country to launch all sorts of cases as long as the donors who support their “work” are appeased, High Court of Uganda Judge Musa Ssekaana has said.
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Justice Musa Ssekaana was speaking on Wednesday at the launch of a Book entitled; “Human Rights in Uganda; The Illusive Promise” authored by veteran human rights activist Dr. Livingstone Ssewanyana, the Director of the Foundation For Human Rights Initiative, a non-profit based in Uganda.
According to Judge Musa Ssekaana, studying for and obtaining a law degree does not, in and of itself, make one a “human rights lawyer,” categorically stating that most “human rights lawyers” in Uganda lack the “bare minimum.”
“ The Public thinks every lawyer is a human rights lawyer. Reason? Because he knows Chapter Four [of the Constitution of Uganda – a part of the Constitution that details human rights and freedoms]. As soon as something happens , everyone is running to Court bombarding us with all manner of Applications. Go to Court, he messes it up, he doesn’t even know what he is talking about because after the filing [they send the papers to the donors], ‘we have filed this!, we have filed this!’ and they are killing genuine and noble human rights causes.”Judge Musa Ssekaana said.
Dr. Livingstone’s book [which he himself has described as best for students of human rights] is going to come handy for such human rights lawyers, Judge Musa Ssekaana said.
“ Studying law does not necessarily mean you are a human rights lawyer. Most of them lack the bare minimum…the bare basics. So, I believe the book by Dr. Ssewanyana is going to add to the Knowledge and educate those who could have missed classes at the University or who did not even understand human rights as they studied it before they got into the field because the Academic part is different from what is the reality or what is on the ground.”Judge Ssekaana added.
On his part, Dr. Livingstone Ssewanyana agreed with the Judge saying human rights work in Uganda leaves a lot to be desired noting that in the book he wonders whether human rights organisations in Uganda are “pretenders” or “true activists”
“ Human Rights work in this country leaves a lot to desired. There is very little that is done in mobilizing the population to stand against injustice. There is very little done in terms of defending those who become victims of abuse. There is very little done in mobilizing people to acquire capital in order to build their economic muscles so as such it is very much in its infancy.
Compared to many activists that I have come across in Nigeria, South Korea, Vietnam, the United States, and even in the Arab world, the human rights work in this county needs more engineering in order to address the current democratic and human rights deficit that we are experiencing.”Dr. Livingstone Ssewanyana said.
Important to note, Justice Ssekaana has even jailed one “human rights lawyer” for contempt of Court. [Read about that here].
Benjamin Ahikiiriza is a Legal Writer And Digital Communications & Marketing Specialist majoring in Lawyers, Law Firms And the larger Legal Sector.
Benjamin currently Works as the Director of Content and Business Development At LegalReports.