The Chief Justice of Uganda Bart Katureebe and other judicial officers are dismayed by acts of hooliganism that culminated into yet another assault on a judicial officer in the course of her duties. He described them as uncivilized, offensive and disrespectful of the sanctity of the courts.
On Friday, a charged group of activists over run security and Buganda Road Chief Magistrate Court, vandalizing court property, including videoconferencing and security gadgets.
They also threw empty bottles of mineral water at the face of Ms. Cladys Kamasanyu, a Grade One Magistrate while delivering her verdict in a case of social activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi. The Magistrate convicted Dr. Nyazi on the offense of “cyber harassment” and sentenced her to 18 months in prison after posting a Facebook poem using graphic imagery as a metaphor for President Yoweri Museveni’s alleged “oppression, suppression and repression” over 33 years of rule.
Justice Katureebe in Saturday’s press release, commended Kamasanyu for remaining calm throughout the proceedings and the assault on her, saying that acts of hooliganism have no place in a civilized society.
“This kind of thing is not acceptable…we condemn this kind of hooliganism in the strongest possible terms. We hope the culprits are quickly identified and brought to book,” Katureebe said.
“We are working hand in hand with relevant authorities to ensure that there is adequate security for all judicial officers. I have already asked the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to raise the matter courts’ security as a matter of urgency in Cabinet,” he said.
The Judiciary’s Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana, who also condemned the assault on the magistrate, has also said that judicial officers must be protected as they perform their duties.
The Chief Registrar, Ms Esta Nambayo said judicial officers are merely neutral arbiters who carefully here both parties in a matter before making a verdict according to the law. “The law gives dissatisfied parties a right to appeal an judicial decision up to the Supreme Court,” she said, adding that Kamasanyu dutifully played her part in the case of Dr. Nyanzi and that anyone not satisfied with the verdict has the right to appeal in stated of engaging in silence.
She said the courts simply adjudicate cases and the public is allowed to follow proceedings. “We find it callous for litigants to organise crowds to try to undermine judicial independence. If we want to be governed by the rule of law, then we must allow institutions to operate and that is why the Constitution provides for the courts,” she said.
This is not the first time that a judicial officer is attacked in court in the recent years.
In November 2017, Fred Kyaligonza, a suspect, jumped from the dock and pounced on Masindi chief magistrate Catherine Angwero and beat her up until he was overpowered by prison warders.
She had convicted him of failure to pay damages arising from a court case in which a money lender, James Magadu, dragged him to court for failing to pay back a loan he contracted.