The laws in Uganda are very clear: ‘every one is equal before the law’ and ‘every one is innocent until proven guilty’ by a competent court. Also, any suspect is supposed to be granted access to his lawyers, should he/she demand that Counsel be present before he/she engages in any proceedings that have a bearing on his/her future in respect to the law.
And these notions have, for most of the 30-year old lifespan of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) regime in Uganda, been sanctified. However, since the beginning of the electioneering process that preceded the February 18 presidential and parliamentary elections and thereafter, things seem to be changing negatively, mostly for those persons involved with opposition politics.
As a result, so many actions by the state in respect to the activities of the opposition have turned out to be legally objectionable both in form and content, leaving a bitter trail among sections of the community.
For instance, sitting as a single judge and after working hours, early this month Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma made an ex parte order, among other matters, barring any media house from reporting about activities of the ‘defiance campaign’ of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
It should be noted that the media is mandated by law to carry out activities of reporting on national issues, for the benefit of informing the other citizens who may not have access to information and yet they are entitled to know what is going on in their country.
So, one then wonders why a senior member of the judiciary, very much schooled at law, can ignore such an important facet and make a blatant order that even has the overt capacity to put the integrity of the judiciary in question.
That said, there is also need for the respective arms of state to explain today’s failure to produce opposition FDC flag bearer Dr Kizza Besigye, in the Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court, under the guise of ‘security threats’ against his life.
The suggestion that the trial of Dr Besigye be moved to a court in Luzira should also be explained, because it is not clear if his security there will be better guaranteed.
Otherwise, the judicial and law enforcement institutions in Uganda owe it to the citizens to avoid ‘selective’ application of the law.