Minister Mwesigye emphasizes need to pass legal aid bill into a law

By Deo Wasswa

The Minister for Security and Veteran Affairs Adolf Mwesigye has underscored the need for parliament to enact the National legal Aid bill 2019 into law before the 10th parliament ends its term of operation.

The minister says this is an important bill because if it’s passed into law it will help the vulnerable and poor persons who cannot afford to access free lawyers before court.

The minister made the remarks, at the opening of an engagement meeting with members of parliament on the legal and parliamentary affairs committee, including members from the civil society Organizations.

The bill when passed into law will make it mandatory for the government to provide a lawyer to defend a vulnerable person who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, to defend that vulnerable person before court.

The current law only mandates the government to provide free lawyers to persons who have committed capital offenses such as defilement and the said lawyer is provided at the time of trial that is before the high court.

New bill to help curb rampant human sacrifice

By Daudi Zirimala
The Ayivu County legislator who doubles as the Chairperson of Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Children Affairs Benerad Atiku says that they’re spearheading a bill on Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifices Bill to prescribe penalties that can stop acts of Human Sacrifices.

Speaking during the dialogue on the role of media in child protection organized by Save Street children Uganda,Hon Atiku said that penalties in the penal code act are not deterrent enough to perpetrators of human sacrifices something which has increased these cases in the country.

He noted that violation of Children rights have drastically increased due to absences of implementation frame work of laws passed by parliament concerning protection of children’s rights.

Atiku says that ever since the children’s amended was passed ,many people are still hiding in the penal code to practice child/human sacrifices yet the penal code does clearly stipulate the penalties to such acts,that’s why as legislators on Children’s forum they want this bill table before the end of this year to address such challenges.

However similarly during the dialogue the media have been challenged to reveal evils and abuses against children in-order to help Ugandan children live a violence free life.

According to the Commissioner in charge of Children affairs at the ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development Mondo Kyateeka, the media have tried to expose people who violate children’s rights but haven’t prioritized such stories on the front page.

Speaking to media practitioners during the dialogue organized by Save the Street Children Uganda, Kyateeka noted that Ugandan journalists have not interested themselves in covering stories about children abuse yet they are key stakeholders in protecting children.

Kyateeka says the media is developing partners in-terms exposing evil therefore they can do more to eradicate child abuse in Uganda.

Currently according to national statistics from the ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development, over 35% of girls below the age of 18 are sexually abused and 17% of boys below the age of 18 are also sexually abused.

He is concerned about the media being a washed with lead stories about marriage break ups neglecting issues about children and child violence.

Parliament should bring back bleeding disorder bill

By Daudi Zirimala

The Minister of Health in Charge of General Duties Joyce Moriku Kaducu has called upon members of parliament to bring back the bill on bleeding disorders for debate to enable the ministry to plan thoroughly on bleeding disorders.

Speaking during the World Hemophilia day in Kampala, Dr Kaducu said that the bill was differed for further consultation when it was brought in parliament but it’s high time for parliament to debate again passes this bill to cater for hemophilia conditions.

She said that hemophilia foundation of Uganda is working hand in hand with the ministry of health to create a dedicated heamohopilia center in Mulago and regional referral hospitals and equip the centers with factors and reagents for testing heamophilia.

Heamophilia is an inherited genetic disorder that impairs the bodys ability to control blood clotting when blood vessel is broken and people with heamopholia do not bleed any faster than normal,they bleed for a much longer time.Over 2583 people are estimated to have heamophilia in Uganda and only 3.2% of the 2583 are diagnosed,96.8% remain misdiagnosed.

Lands minister given 45 days to table land amendment bill

By Alice Lubwama
Parliament has given the lands minister Betty Amongi ,45 days to present the land amendment bill or else, a member of parliament for Kasanda South, Simeo Nsubuga will be allowed to introduce a private members bill.

The directive by the deputy speaker Jacob Oulanya came after MP Simeo Nsubuga had asked parliament to grant him leave to introduce a private member’s bill entitled “The Land Amendment Bill” seeking to address land evictions.

Simeo Nsubuga said that Government had failed to bring an amendment in parliament yet the land lords were evicting people left and right especially in the central region.

However, the minister for lands Betty Amongi opposed the amendment saying that the current land act was enough to address the issues.

MPs oppose bill aimed at regulating religious organisations

By Alice Lubwama
The motion by Manjiya county legislator John Baptist Nambeshe seeking leave of Parliament to introduce a private member’s bill entitled ‘The Religious Organizations Bill 2019’ that seeks to provide a legal framework for registration, regulation and management of religious organizations received protests from members of Parliament who argued that the move is intended to restrict freedom of worship.

A number of MPs led by Buvuma district member of parliament Nantume Egunyu rejected the proposal to have a Bureau set up to register the various denominations saying it would lead to duplication of agencies that government is fighting to reduce.

Nambeshe’s proposed bill is similar to the one what the ethics and integrity minister father Simon Lukodo intends to introduce.

The bill has received a lot of criticism from religious leaders especially from born again churches even calling president Museveni to relieve him of his duties.

MP Ssekitoleko’s proposed bill thrown out

Parliament has blocked an attempt by Nakifuma County MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko to bring proposed amendments to the Constitution.

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga on Wednesday directed that the motion by Kafeero to seek leave of Parliament to draft the Constitution Amendment Bill should be halted until government brings an omnibus bill to handle all constitutional amendments.

Kadaga said she cannot allow one MP to bring amendments, noting that other legislators may be prompted to bring theirs at different intervals.

Her decision drew wild cheers and dancing in Parliament as MPs from opposition and NRM jubilated over what appears to be an end to over three weeks of protracted debate on the bill.

During the over two-hour debate on Wednesday evening, majority of MPs debated on the motion, calling on Parliament to block it on grounds that it was laced with suspicion and ill-motive.

The bill proposes raising the retirement for the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal from 70 years to 75 years and creating an open ended term for Electoral Commissioners.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Major General Kahinda Otafiire told the House that while government was yet to discuss the proposed Bill, it had proposed that an omnibus detailing several amendments to be tabled in one Bill.

Some MPs including Peter Ogwang wondered why opposition legislators were opposing the motion yet the proposals were supported by their respective parties.

MPs Odonga Otto and Stephen Mukitale said they had constitutional amendments which they wanted to present as well.

However, majority MPs were excited after Kadaga ruled that Parliament should urgently table the omnibus bill.

Several legislators including William Nzoghu, Mbwatekamwa Gaffa and Gerald Karuhanga who spoke against the motion were elated that Parliament had stood against what they claimed would amount to defilement of the constitution.

Other MPs including Doreen Amule, Amolatar Woman MP said government should have fronted the Bill.

Kilak North MP, Anthony Akol, whom Kafeero has threatened  to sue for defamation said Parliament’s decision is a show of suspicion over the Bill.

Reacting to Parliament’s decision, Kafeero conceded but said he had played his part as an MP by demanding that government performs its duty to bring a consolidated Constitutional amendment Bill.