Sunday, July 22, 2012


THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LAW BY MOSES SSERWANGA IS JLOS DELIVERING ON IT’S PROMISE Since the NRM government led by President Yoweri Museveni took over power by legal Notice No. 1 of 1986 significant inroads have been made in putting the country on a constitutional path . It’s imperative therefore to examine how the Justice Law and Order Sector performed in the last 10 years . Just like any other revolution that overthrows another government, when the NRM captured power after a 5 year war , it immediately suspended the 1967 Constitution by legal Notice No.1 of 1986 and among other things vested the NRC with supreme authority of the government including the legislative powers of the legislature (Parliament). The Legal Notice No. 1 stipulated what kind of leadership the NRM wanted to implement in the country. And since constitutionalism was one of the grievances that led Museveni and his fighters to the bush to wage a protracted war against what was perceived to be a doctorial government led by the late President Milton Obote, It was planned that the country would have a national constitution where people’s views were to be considered. And in 1995 Ugandans came up with this Constitution which effectively ended the operation of the NRM Legal Notice I. By any standards, the 1995 constitution which was promulgated after country wide consultations and fierce debate in the Constituent Assembly, was a good document ; that provided for fundamental human rights in chapter four of its pages, separation of powers between the judiciary, legislature and the executive and more significantly provided for presidential term limits. And once the Constitution was in place, government through parliament has gone a head to enact many good laws to fight corruption and ensure public accountability and transparency, protection of the environment and natural resources and ensure public order , security of persons and property and the rule of law generally. More still the 10 ten last years , have seen government a Strategic Investment Plan (SIP 1& 2) and it’s now rolling out SIP III for the next five years 2012/13-2017, to ensure the rule of law and justice for all Ugandan irrespective of their gender, age and social status. The Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) is a sector wide approach that brings together 17institutions responsible for administering justice maintaining law and order and promoting the observance of human rights. For the record the JLOS 17 institutions include , Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MoJCA)which is the Lead Institution , the Judiciary, Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution (CADER),Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC),Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Law Development Centre (LDC), Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development(MoGLSD)-Juvenile Justice, and Ministry of Internal Affairs(MIA). Others are the Ministry of Local Government(Local Council Courts),Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT),Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC),Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC), Uganda Law Society (ULS), Uganda Police Force (UPF), Uganda Prison Service (UPS), and Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB). New innovations some of which have won international awards have been brought on board such as the Chain Linked Initiative to fast track justice and community policing to prevent crime. On the whole , It can be argued that to some extent great strides have been made in realization of the rule of law and administration of justice. This is evidenced through the creation of Specialised divisions of the High Court which include ,the Commercial, land, family, criminal , anti corruption High Court divisions among others. The number of magistrates and judges on the bench has more than doubled and the judicial service delivery facilities including court premises have been renovated and new ones constructed although the justice sector is still under-funded. But although government has made tremendous effort in ensuring a functioning and fair justice system in the country, there many inherent weakness and in some cases out right violations of the spirit of our national Constitution. Some of the subsidiary laws enacted have tended to take away some of the rights protected under the constitution . The constitution itself has since been amended to remove term limits a decision that has been widely criticized. Since 1999 the Constitution has been amended 48 times setting a new record. Although among other amendments to the constitution was the establishment of a multi-party democracy. But on many occasions the presidential and local elections held under the pluralism system have been disputed for alleged lack of democratic political space, violence and voter bribery. The government also seems weak in implementation of the many laws that have been enacted and once it has come out to apply the law –it has been in many cases selectively done. The Inspector General of Government report produced together with the Economic Policy Research Center of Makerere University -2010 noted the poor implementation of laws that are supposed to ensure justice for all. It was reported that Uganda had almost 90% weak implementation of laws, most especially anti-corruption legislation. There’s also poor facilitation of agencies that are supposed to provide justice and law. The police is poorly facilitated thus being ranked as one of the most corrupt institutions. In the process justice is defeated and hence denied. The judiciary too has lamented over poor pay. The Chief Justice recently advocated an increase in the salary of judicial officers. This has affected the justice system in the country. Last year the IGG's report mentioned the judiciary as one of those agencies that have been hit by corruption. With poor pay of judicial officers corruption related cases have been reported against some judicial officers and yet they are supposed to be custodians of our laws. Justice cannot be delivered where the judiciary is perforated with corruption. The IGG office was established to ensure accountability among public officials and fight the corruption vise . But the office started off on the wrong premise as it was placed under the President’s Office hence its independence was questioned. It is now a constitutional office. The Leadership Code is among the tools the IGG is meant to enforce against public servants so that none has ill gotten wealth. It is still an uphill task to implement. Article 235A of the Constitution establishes the Leadership Code Tribunal to handle cases involving politicians that violate the Code however 7 years later it has not been constituted. The Office of the Auditor General is now independent able to regulate its funds and recruit staff in order to monitor government expenditure. The office is still thin on the ground. Proposals to amend the Constitution to deny the right of bail have gone a long away in threatening the justice doctrine enshrined in our constitution that a person is presumed innocent until proved guilt. Further still ,there is little or no effort at all to educate the Ugandan people about their constitutional rights and what is contained in the many good laws that have been enacted by parliament . The end result is that many people continue to suffer silently . Implementation of the enacted laws should be adhered to. Otherwise they cease to address the purpose for which they were enacted and end up being rendered redundant. Performance contracts should strictly be implemented and adequate funding towards JLOS institutions and their over site agencies should be revised upwards. Justice must be seen to be done . This article was first published in Gov’t Review a monthly publication that focuses on Uganda’s national development issues The writer is a development communications consultant and advocate of the High Court of Uganda

Saturday, July 14, 2012


EDITOR’S NOTE Today marks yet another milestone in Uganda’s media industry as we have come to know it .Government Review , a new monthly development oriented magazine with unique content, projection and disposition, has been born. Tailored at promoting the national development agenda, the magazine shall exclusively focus on critical national development issues to ensure public accountability, transparency and good government. So, in effect , there will be moderate focus on politics and more emphasis on development matters in this magazine\s columns. As a development mouthpiece, we shall strive to practice a brand of journalism that is fair and balanced, always publishing well researched and accurate information about the central and local government performance; policy reviews across all sectors to enable citizens participate in their country's development agenda. This is a media platform crafted to showcase the key development success stories while not losing sight of the challenges that confront the country and what should be done to overcome those challenges. We shall talk to the national and local leaders, the business gurus and our development partners to bring to you their thoughts about government’s national development policies and programs and how there are meant to benefit the Ugandan people. We acknowledge and thank government ministries and agencies that have worked with us to put together this publication. And from the onset, therefore, we at Government Review ,owe our readers a great debt of gratitude for your promise to stand with us and together help develop our country. Moses Sserwanga Executive Editor