Selective application of justice in Uganda is sad
Fourty five years ago on August 28, 1963, one of the world’s most celebrated civil rights crusaders, Martin Luther King addressed a sea of people on the National Mall in Washington , USA . On that day , King proclaimed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, “I have a dream, that one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed — ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”
The equality Dr King talked about is one of the tenets of our national constitution - that all people are equal before the law. Sadly though, the majority of Ugandans are yet to realise Dr King’s dream because our justice system is poorly managed.
Many citizens continue to suffer due to the selective and unfair application of the law in criminal cases . One of such cases is that of Peace Muhindo , the 15 -year-old girl who was allegedly assaulted by ‘Pastor’ Irene Manjeri Nalongo . The girl who is admitted at Mulago Hospital suffered a spinal cord injury that has left her paralysed following the alleged assault by Manjeri, who is herself a mother of twins.
Muhindo’s case is said to have been poorly investigated by the Police and those responsible for the girl’s suffering are yet to be taken to court. The latest incident is one of a growing list of felons (serious crimes) committed by Ugandan “pastors” .
In America , another Ugandan pastor - the flashy Jackson Ssenyonga of Christian Life Ministries - was arrested and detained for allegedly fondling a 13-year-old girl while on a plane.
The US authorities are now preparing to refer criminal charges against the ‘pastor” for his alleged lewd and lascivious acts against the girl . There is also the case of Mr Julius Lukyamuzi alias Kitaka who was allegedly sodomised by a pastor and is yet to receive justice five years since his case was first reported to Old Kampala Police Station.
In many of these cases, the Police investigators have either deliberately, or incompetently done a sloppy job and we are yet to see any of these self acclaimed men and women of God answer for their criminal acts .
But not all Ugandans are gullible. The citizens are watching and documenting these cases and praying that one day sanity shall prevail over those in charge of our justice system to raise the red flag and say no to the injustices.
And can also take solace in the fact that in every desperate situation, there are people who want to stand up and be counted. This time round, it’s the Police’s head of professional standards unit, Mr. John Ndungutse, who has instituted an investigation against the Police officers who mishandled Ms Peace Muhindo’s case.
Mr Ndungutse’s actions need to be commended because just like many other lobbyists, the pentecostal movement in Uganda, is very powerful. It’s an established fact that the majority of pastors in this country are not only filthy rich , they are also very influential people. This perhaps best explains why many of the criminal cases reported against them have not been successfully prosecuted by the Police and Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).
This column has it on good authority that Lukyamuzi“s file is gathering dust somewhere in the DPP’s office. Can someone take action about this specific case at least in the interest of justice. And it’s important because the Constitution has raised the stakes about the citizens’ right to be accorded justice. The DPP should take the high road and prosecute the high profile cases involving the mighty and powerful to ensure justice and accountability.
Mr Sserwanga is a journalist and advocate