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Uganda Lawyers call strike over government brutality

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Sheria (The Law Forum)' started by ByaseL, May 3, 2011.

  1. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    May 3, 2011
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
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    A three-day strike beginning tomorrow has been announced by the Uganda Law Society as an expression of displeasure at the government’s high-handed clampdown on the walk-to-work protests against high fuel prices.

    At an extra-ordinary meeting of the Law Society held in Kampala yesterday, it was also agreed that other professionals be asked to join in this show of disapproval against the excessive and disproportionate use of force by the police, army and other security agencies in breaking up peaceful protests.

    “Whether it is Besigye or Museveni, nobody should wreak havoc on this country and we sit back and watch,” ULS President Bruce Kyerere said. “Are we for the rule of law or anarchy? What we stand for is what the country is waiting to know.”

    The Judiciary last night said, “It is unfortunate for the lawyers to [go on] strike without addressing their concerns with us so that we may investigate them and take corrective measures where possible.”

    In defence
    “I think the Judiciary is still on course and we cherish and uphold our independence. There may be some concerns but we are willing to give them audience if they bring their concerns to us. That is the only rational way of handling matters,” Judiciary spokesman Erias Kisawuzi told Daily Monitor.

    Dr Kizza Besigye, leader of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change party, is among hundreds of Ugandans who have been hospitalised after being shot, detained, beaten or otherwise assaulted by the police. The death toll from the walk-to-work demonstrations, which began on April 11, is now estimated at more than 10, including at least two babies.

    The lawyers warned that Uganda faces a crisis, and demanded that Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki takes action. Mr Odoki heads a Judiciary which was criticised by the Law Society for the “partiality” of some of its officers presiding over the cases involving Dr Besigye, Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao and others.

    “How can a magistrate in a space of days hop from one court to another purporting to entertain matters? Where does she derive such powers to manage three areas? Is there someone behind this or is she acting on her own?” Mr Kyerere asked.

    Mr Kyerere and other lawyers mentioned Magistrate Justine Atukwasa, who first refused to hear Dr Besigye’s bail application in Nabweru Court in Wakiso District, claiming she was busy.
    After the Easter break, she was drafted onto the Nakasongola Court circuit more than 100 kilometres away to preside over the same matter, ultimately slapping a Shs50 million non-cash bail on Dr Besigye and each of the three co-accused. She also ordered, without specifying, that the FDC leader does not indulge in activities likely to cause breach of the peace.

    A day later, she turned up in Kasangati Court to again hear allegations of unlawful assembly against the opposition politician.
    “Time has come for us to condemn the panicky attitude of some judicial officers in some matters and that magistrate’s issue should be taken up for disciplinary action,” Mr James Nangwala, a senior member of the society said.

    ULS said they are going on strike because the “Judiciary has been used, abused and thrown into the confusion the state and the opposition have created in the last three weeks.”
    Wednesday’s strike will be the second since 2007 when lawyers, judges and other judicial officers abandoned the courts protesting infringement on the Judiciary’s independence by the Executive.

    At the time, Dr Besigye and others had been granted bail pending hearing of a treason case against them only for them to be re-arrested on the court premises by the shadowy Black Mamba security unit.
    The High Court in Kampala was raided by armed men in what retired Principal Judge James Ogoola poetically described as a “rape of the Temple of Justice”. Deputy Chief Justice Laetetia Kikonyogo led her colleagues in that strike.

    Demand prosecution
    Other lawyers had initially called for a two-week strike to mourn what they called the “death of the rule of law in the country”. It was later decided that members will sit peacefully at the High Court buildings throughout the country until the government agrees a dialogue to return normalcy to the country.

    They also agreed that perpetrators like Gilbert Bwana Arinaitwe, the security agent who violently arrested Dr Besigye and vandalised his car on Thursday last week, be brought to book.
    They agreed to give legal aid to all those taken into prison without trial and those victims who can not afford legal redress, and will keep documenting the events for future accountability from all perpetrators.
  2. Manumbu

    Manumbu JF-Expert Member

    May 3, 2011
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    big up learned friends.....we are together in this one...down with M7's brutality