By Sania Babirye
Anti corruption court chief magistrate Agnes Alum has granted a five million cash bail to state Minister for Labour , Employment and Industrial relations Herbert Kabanfunzaki.
The state minister has also been ordered to deposit his passport and two land titles that he owns with his wife in court until the case is dispossed.
The chief magistrate ruled that the minister had no criminal charges pending against him and that his surities were substantial.
The state had asked court to deny Hon.Kabafunzaki bail on grounds that he is likely to abscond once released and due to his status as an MP and state minister he might use it to interfere with witnesses.
However the magistrate dismissed their application saying court can not deny him bail on mere speculation.
Amnesty International has condemned the arrest and prosecution of Makerere University research fellow Dr Stella Nyanzi.
Dr Nyanzi was on Monday, charged with offensive communication and cyber harassment in relation to her Facebook posts attacking the government. In one of posts, the basis of charges, she called the president a “pair of buttocks”. She was remanded to Luzira prison for two weeks to allow her lawyers time to file a defence in regard to state prosecution’s application that her mental health be examined.
Dr Nyanzi denied the two charges which are contrary to sections 24 (1)(2)(a) and 25 of the Computer Misuse Act 2011.
Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes region in a statement released today evening said government should drop all charges and unconditionally release Dr Nyanzi.
“Arresting (Dr Stella) Nyanzi simply for criticising the President and his wife serves no legitimate purpose. The state should stop wasting resources on pointless and politically-motivated prosecutions, immediately drop all charges against her and release her unconditionally,” she said. “The Authorities must also immediately revoke the Computer Misuse Act, and respect, protect, promote and fulfill the right to freedom of expression of all Ugandans.”
The controversial researcher has been using obscenity in her writing on her Facebook account criticizing President Museveni and her wife Janet Museveni for failure to provide sanitary pads to school going girls as promised during last year’s presidential campaigns. She was arrested on Friday evening from Mackinnon Suites Hotel in Nakasero after speaking at a Rotary Club event.
Muthoni noted that “lack of sanitary towels is one of the leading causes of girls dropping out of school in Uganda.” She argued that Dr Nyanzi has led a campaign to ensure girls continue to attend school with dignity during their periods but is being harassed, intimidated and arrested instead of commending her.
She noted that her prosecution violates Uganda’s obligations regarding the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution and other regional as well as international human rights law.
Judges unanimously upheld parliament’s decision to impeach Ms Park over her role in a corruption scandal involving her close friend, Choi Soon-sil.
She now loses her presidential immunity and could face criminal charges.
There have been angry scenes outside the court. Police said two protesters had died.
The court ruling is the culmination of months of political turmoil and public protest. An election must now be held within 60 days.
Ms Park’s office said she would not be leaving the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential palace, on Friday nor making any statement.
Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn has called for calm, saying the government should remain stable to prevent internal conflict from spreading.
At the heart of the drama lies the close friendship between the president and Ms Choi.
Ms Choi is accused of using her presidential connections to pressure companies to give millions of dollars in donations to non-profit foundations she controlled.
Ms Park is alleged to have been personally involved in this, and to have given Ms Choi unacceptable levels of access to official documents.
Parliament voted to impeach Ms Park in December and the Constitutional Court has since been deciding whether to uphold or overturn this.
On Friday, a panel of eight judges ruled Ms Park’s actions “seriously impaired the spirit of… democracy and the rule of law”.
The court said she had broken the law by allowing Ms Choi to meddle in state affairs, and had breached guidelines on official secrets by leaking numerous documents.
Ms Park had “concealed completely Choi’s meddling in state affairs and denied it whenever suspicions over the act emerged and even criticised those who raised the suspicions,” it said.
But the judges dismissed some charges, including accusations Ms Park had infringed on freedom of the press by creating a media blacklist of cultural figures, and criticism of her response during the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.
Ms Park was already suspended from presidential duties, with the prime minister taking over her responsibilities.
But she must now leave office – and her official residence – and a presidential election will be held within the next 60 days.
She has also lost her presidential immunity so could now face criminal charges over allegations she colluded with Ms Choi.
By Sania BabiryeFDC former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye has stood his ground and refused to return to the Nakawa magustrate court for mention of his treason case as promised.This is after Besigye vowed to not appear in court willingly until the DPP committed him for trial inthe high court.Besigye has since then petitioned the high court over the matter and the case is up for hearing on the 22 of March . Even today state informed court that investigations into the matter are still on going.However, Nakawa grade one magistrate Noah Ssajabi has issued criminal summons to Besigye after prosecution led by Racheal Nabwire asked court to issue criminal summon against Besigye accusing him of missing court with no explanation.Magistrate Sajjabi has now signed summons requiring Besigye to appear in court on the 27th/March 2017 for further mention of his case as police investigations are still on-going.Its close to nine months since the DPP charged Besigye with treason but has failed to Commit him for trial in high court which has the jurusdiction to try capital offenses.And Besigye says that until the DPP concludes his alleged investigations and commits him he will not continue to waste his time and money appearing in the lower court with no powers to try his case.Besigye is charged with treason after a video of him taking oath as the legally elected president of Uganda in the conclude Febuary 2016 General elections surfaced on social media which he does not deny.
Prior to the creation of the new district last year, court sessions would be held at the County conference (Lukiiko) hall, which was later transformed into the District conference (Lukiiko) hall upon the operationalization of the new district in July.
In the new arrangement, handcuffed suspects, witnesses, sureties and the audience sit on the ground as they listen to the cases read by the magistrate. But locals say that the arrangement is disturbing and are demanding that the district authorities together with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs construct a bigger court room.
Joseph Maguru 59, a resident from Hamurwa Sub County says that he was devastated when a prison warder told him that a person he had visited at the court was among the crowd that was seated on the ground, in front of a small courtroom. He was equally advised to join the group since the court did not have any furniture for visitors.
Jane Mukandinda, 47, a resident of Karukara in Hamurwa Town Council, Rubanda District was also at the court to stand surety for one of the suspects. Mukandinda described the sight of the court session as shameful.
Silva Baguma, the Rubanda District Vice Chairman says that court sessions in Rubanda and often adjourned whenever the weather changes. During rainy days, everyone scampers to the neighborhoods while suspects are taken back to Rubanda Government Prison for shelter.
Baguma says that lack of furniture is a general problem at the district.
Bernard Kasangaki, the Rubanda District Principle Assistant Secretary says that the District is still financially incapacitated. He however says that the district is willing to offer land to any organisation that would offer to construct a bigger courtroom.
Grade two Magistrate Richard Niwagaba says the matter will be forwarded to the judicial service commission for consideration.
There is calm at Jinja High Court where Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere is expected for his bail application hearing.
Mumbere’s previous appearances have been characterised by heavy security deployment, closing of some roads and restricted access to court premises. Today there is open access to court, no security deployment and roads have not been closed.
Mumbere was initially granted bail on the 13th January by High Court judge Eva Luswata. He was however, re-arrested immediately upon release and slapped with fresh charges.
Meanwhile there is hope among the Rwenzururu kingdom subjects after the kingdom officials negotiated with the state for Mumbere’s release today.
Clearance Bwambale, the Rwenzururu Spokesperson, told URN that members of the royal family including Mumbere’s brother and Agriculture state minister Christopher Kibanzanga, will stand surety for the king. According to Bwambale, the state wasn’t impressed when opposition politicians stood surety for Mumbere during the first bail application.
Some of the Members of Parliament from Kasese have been at court as early as 9am and are still waiting for Mumbere to appear in court.
Mumbere applied for bail citing ill health, advanced age and having a place of abode in Munyonyo, Kampala where he would stay in case he was granted bail.
Mumbere was remanded together with his Prime Minister, Johnson Thembo Kitsumbire and 161 royal guards to Luzira Prisons in November last year over the Kasese clashes, which claimed the lives of more than 100 people.
They face 41 counts including treason, terrorism, murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery and malicious damage to property.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) raided Mumbere’s palace in Kasese on the weekend of November 26th and 27th after the king reportedly refused to hand over some of his guards. The state accuses the guards of being behind violent attacks on civilians and security installations in the Rwenzori region.