Sodomised? Courts must offer remedy
July 31, 2007
Mr Julius Lukyamuzi alias Kitaka who says he was sodomised by one of Kampala’s pastors is yet to receive justice, two years since he first reported his ordeal to the authorities.
To-date, even after numerous media reports implicating a host of pastors for having covered-up the lewd acts committed against Lukyamuzi, the Directorate of Public Prosecution, (DDP) is yet to commence criminal proceedings against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
To the ordinary person this is not surprising though because it is a well-known fact that the cost of justice in Uganda is indeed very high. For the rich and mighty, the police and DPP’s office will always act pretty quickly to either institute criminal proceedings or withdraw charges, depending, to protect their interests. For the poor, the down-trodden wretched masses, the situation is completely different.
The less privileged will suffer for long periods without receiving justice and that is if justice is to be accorded to them at all. Otherwise, how can one explain a situation where a complainant with medical evidence and other material evidence linking directly to his tormentors has not had any of the suspects arrested and arraigned before court for prosecution?
This kind of environment says other things too. It tells ordinary citizen that destiny is outside their control and that as a consequence, they have to be resigned to fate. In the process people give up their constitutional rights; the right to access justice among others.
Avid readers of this column may perhaps want to be reminded that public prosecutors under the DPP’s office handle criminal cases on behalf of the state and the wronged public.
The prosecutions handled by the institution of the DPP directly affect the public either as complainants, suspects/accused persons, witnesses or simply concerned citizens. This is the more reason why such prosecutions should be conducted in the spirit and letter of our Constitution which calls for fairness, impartiality and justice for all.
There ought not to be any justification for delaying the rendering of justice. This is because justice delayed is justice denied. It is the duty of all citizens to ensure that there is total adherence to the rule of law which allows for peaceful co-existence and protection from crime.
Much as there is selective administration of justice in this country, for Lukyamuzi not all is lost at least for now.
Just over a week ago the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles reached a record $660 million out of court settlement for 500 victims of sexual abuse dating back to the 1940s.
The settlement which means an estimated 500 victims will receive more than $1 million each, followed accusations against a Catholic priest, Clinton Hagenback, for molesting parishioners. In Uganda, we practice the English legal system which allows for an individual or group of individuals to file civil suits and claim compensation for wrongs suffered.
This legal course of action is particularly prudent in situations where the citizens are denied a remedy through our criminal justice system which is still bedevilled by corruption, laziness, personal interests taking priority over those of the wider public interest, outright political interference, and in some cases; sheer incompetence.
The law of torts (civil wrongs) provides for a fundamental general principle that it is wrongful to cause harm to other persons in the absence of some specific ground of justification or excuse.
Among civil wrongs from which an individual can successful claim specific, punitive and general damages from the suspected wrongdoer include what in law is referred to as trespass to person. Trespass to person has three main manifestations - assault, battery and false imprisonment.
It is on record that Mr Lukyamuzi suffered one of these when he was repeatedly homosexually assaulted. He says his anal anatomy has since been damaged and that he now moves around padded. Lukyamuzi and any other person in his situation can recover damages from those who have caused them much pain.
Lukyamuzi can be awarded damages by the courts of law for the suffering occasioned to him. The pastors responsible should pay heavily for the sinful, vulgar and criminal acts inflicted on a young man whose future has been ruined.
Next Week: The communal constitutional land rights of pastoralists such as the Balaalo.
The writer is a Journalist/ Advocate
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