Government asks to be allowed to settle journalists’ beating case out of court

By Sania Babirye

The Government has asked the High court in Kampala to allow them settle out of court a case in which Human Rights activist and Lawyer Stephen Kalali, dragged the government to court over what he describes as continued beating of journalists while in line of their duty by security agents.

According to General Godard Businge, the head of the legal affairs in the UPDF, the army and the Journalists relationship has tremendously improved and more efforts are being put in place to better both their relationships.

He added that it is a wastage of time and resources on both sides to continue with the said legal suit, yet, it would be better if court allows both parties to settle the matter amicably.

The Court has adjourned the case to the 14th of June when it will decide on the said request.

In February this year, Kalali petitioned the High Court Civil division seeking orders including permanently order, restraining Government Security Agencies from further acting with alleged gross impunity, malice and interfering with the rights of all media houses and journalists in peaceful pursuit of their work.

On the 17th of February, while covering National Unity platform party president Robert Kyagulanyi present his Human rights violation petition at the United Nations offices in Kololo, Military police pounced on the journalists who were waiting for Kyagulanyi outside the UN offices leaving many with serious injuries.

In his petition supported by Lwanga Andrew Kisegella, a member of the Uganda human rights network for journalists and also a victim of police brutality, Kalali is suing government through the attorney general.

The chief of the Uganda Defense Forces David Muhoozi came out and apologized for the said incident with some soldiers arraigned before the disciplinary committee and allegedly charged and imprisoned for nine Mon

He later organised a football Match between the media and the Army as a reconciliation gesture, however, the beating of Journalists has continued by the army personnel while in line of duty.

Government passes tobacco control bill

By Alice Lubwama

Parliament has passed the Tobacco Control (Amendment) Bill, 2020 scrapping taxation on processed tobacco restricting it on the unprocessed leaf for export.

The Vice Chairperson of the finance Committee also Packwach District Woman Representative Jane Pacuto in his report to Parliament said that the tax measures are meant to restrict the export of raw tobacco leave by foreign companies that process it in neighboring countries and later bring it back to Uganda for sale.

She argues that levying tax on unprocessed leaves will create more employment for the local farmers and also generate revenue for the country of about 20 Billion shillings.

MP Patrick Ochani asks government to reinforce SOP

By Alice Lubwama

Apac Municipality MP Patrick Ochani has appealed to the Government to re-enforce the standard operating procedures for COVID-19 especially social distancing if the country is not to seriously suffer the second wave of the virus.

Speaking to journalists at parliament the legislator said that when the pandemic started Government was strict on the SOPS but right now there is a lot of reluctance especially in downtown Kampala where people are so congested yet without the masks.

“When the pandemic started Government made the effort to sensitize people and communities were really worried of COVID and were observing the sops but at the moment they are reluctant.” said Ochani

“As a leader I have been encouraging people in my constituency to observe the SOPS and go for vaccination at whatever function I go to.” he added

He also encouraged fellow parliamentarians to ask people to go for vaccination so as to minimize risks in communities

Government sued over detained American National

By Sania Babirye

The Government has been sued in the high court by Lawyers from legal Aid demanding for immediate unconditional release of an American national Guy Milton Smith who was reportedly arrested by security agencies about a month ago.

The Government has been jointly sued alongside Brigadier Chris Serunjogi Ddamulira the Director of Crime Intelligence in Uganda Police Force, the Commandant Special Investigations Bureau, Kireka and the Inspector General of Police.

In their suit, the lawyers claim that Government and its Security agencies invaded Smith’s home in Fort Portal City at around 2:00 am on March 21st 2021 and forcibly whisked him away to Kampala, and he continues to be held incommunicado at a police facility in Kireka under the command of Ddamulira.

According to an affidavit sworn in by Smith’s wife Sharon Tusiime, her husband is the father of her two children a girl aged 11 years and a boy aged six years and that they have been raising their family together in Kitebutura “A” Cell Njara Ward, Central Division, Fort Portal City,

Tusiime further claims that her is and was taken while recovering from an eye surgery from Ruharo Eye Center in Mbarara for a surgical procedure on his right eye which he underwent on the 16th of March 2021.

She accuses the security operatives of breaking into their house and forcefully taking her sick husband away in a drone van escorted by two other motor vehicles without any identification numbers.

The lawyer argue that the said detention by Ddamulira is unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful and should be lifted.

The petitioners further accuses Ddamulira as the notorious commander of the drone operations that they claim has wrecked thousands of families through enforced disappearances, property and wealth destruction, detention without trial, torture and other gross human rights violations.

They have asked court to compel the respondents to unconditionally release him on grounds that his constitutional right to liberty continues to be violated with impunity by the respondents through their agents and servants.

Court is yet to set a date for hearing.

SEATINI asks government to fix standard management system

By Patricia Osman

Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) is calling for a streamlined system at all Uganda border points to check the quality of all goods being imported and those exported.

The Executive Director SEATINI, a non governmental organisation that works on trade,fiscal and development related issues in the EAC region and the African continent at large, Jane Naluga says that the recent ban on Uganda maize in Kenya was mainly due to standards, an issue that has been under looked for a long time adding that the maize should have been checked on the side of Uganda before heading out.

Aflatoxins are poisonous substances produced by certain kinds of fungi (molds) that are found naturally and can contaminate food crops but also pose a serious health threat to humans and livestock. Food crops can become contaminated both before and after harvesting

Kenya shook the region when it banned maize from Uganda and Tanzania due to aflatoxins, however after days of meetings and consultations the ban was lifted with tough guidelines to be followed by stakeholders. One must have a certificate of conformity on aflatoxin levels of each consignment imported with clear details of where the maize was stored and that all parties dealing in maize imports would have to be registered among others requirements.

“Even though Kenya lifted the ban that shouldn’t stop us from addressing the issue of standards and I think we should take this seriously we need to ensure that not only our maize but all our products are produced to the required standard,” says Naluga.

She adds that this can only be done if the government fully financially supports the standards body The Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Ministry of trade and that of agriculture to work closely to ensure that standards are adhered to right from the inputs to the consumer.

Naluga admits that yes Uganda could have come on the spot recently for importing bad maize to Kenya but so many fake and substandard goods are on the Ugandan market today, and wonders what the government is doing about it.

Plans to merge government institutions are set

By Alice Lubwama

Eastern region Legislator Helen Grace Asamo has tasked the ministry of public service to present the detailed plan for merging Government institutions so that parliament can advise accordingly.

Asamo says that the process needs to be scrutinized carefully because the government might lose a lot of money in litigation in case people working in these entities sue the Government for losing their jobs.

According to the state minister for finance David Bahati, “The process of merging government institutions is in final stages by cabinet with the aim of increasing efficiency and saving resources that are being spent under different agencies when they are actually doing the same work.”

Bahati says that the cabinet has also set up a committee that will come up with a clear road map including looking at contracts for staff of different institutions and the laws which will need amendment before the process for merging is implemented.

He adds that the committees will take two years to make the road map before the final implementation.

Kasanda North MP, Patrick Nsamba Oshabe says that it would have been good if a scientific study to inform the merging process was done to know which agencies were contributing much to the country instead of using informers to determine the changes.

However, Bahati said the study was conducted by the ministry of public service to justify the merger of institutions.

The minister for information communication technology ICT Judith Nabakooba recently released a press statement in which she said the cabinet had adopted a proposed plan intended to merge Government institutions and the reorganization of entities will save the government up to 988 billion shillings .

State wants Tumukunde’s case against CID boss dismissed

By Sania Babirye

The state has asked the high court to dismiss an application in which 2021 presidential aspirant Tumukunde filed in the high court civil division seeking to stay proceedings against CID boss Grace Akullo before high court Judge Musa Sekana and have the case forwarded before the constitutional court for interpretation.

Appearing before Justice Musa Sekana, the attorney general has sworn an affidavit through state attorney Emelda Adong asking court to dismiss the said application in grounds that it has no grounds for any constitutional interpretations.

The attorney general States that the said application is an abuse of court process because it has no value and lacks purpose since he is legally allowed to represent government and its institutions and servants by the constitution of Uganda.

He has also asked Justice Sekana to order Tumukunde to pay him costs to the said suit.

The application arose after Justice Musa Sekana dismissed an application in which Tumukunde through his lawyer Anthony Wameeli wanted court to remove the attorney general from representing CID boss Grace Akullo since he had sued her in her individual capacity.

Tumukunde wants the constitutional court to interpret if a government lawyer has powers to represent anyone being sued in his her individual capacity despite being a civil public servant

He also wants court to interpret whether the Attorney General was legally right to refuse from representing Akullo who was being sued in her individual capacity.

Tumukunde further wants the constitutional court to interpret if Justice Musa Sekana was right to refuse to summon Grace Akullo from appearing in court and defend herself on allegations of violating his constitutional right to liberty and free expression and also refuse to drop the government lawyer from the case and only remain with Akullo.

In August this year, Tumukunde dragged the CID boss and the attorney to the high court accusing her of violating his constitutional right to liberty and free expression.

This is after he was summoned to appear at the CID headquarters on the 17th of August to to be grilled why he was meeting veteran soldiers.

He then went to court seeking those summons to be quashed because they were in violation of his constitutional rights.

He asked justice Sekana to drop the attorney general from the case and remains with only Akullo which court declined to grant and instead ordered both parties to fine their written submissions so that he ruled on the application on the 23rd of next month.

UPDF denies social media reports about peace talks with LRA

By Robert Segawa

The Uganda People’s Defense Forces has revealed that it is not yet time to talk about the request for peace talks by the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) with the government of Uganda.

There were social media reports the previous week indicating that the leadership of the Lord Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony had requested for the peace talks with the government

While addressing the media at Uganda Media Center Lt Col Deo Akiiki the Deputy UPDF spokesperson noted that he can neither confirm nor deny the request for peace talks by Lord Resistance Army because they have not yet received confirmation from the government.

In a related Development Lt Col Deo Akiki revealed that the UPDF will maintain it’s deployment on the Western Boarder of Congo due to the ongoing military attacks by the Congo Militia in Eastern Congo.

Judiciary hires lawyer for Kazinda

By Sania Babirye

Anti corruption court Judge Margret Tibulya has Appointed lawyer Anthony Wameeli on state belief to represent former principle accountant in the office of the prime minister Geoffrey Kazinda in his illicit enrichment case .

Wameeli is going to represent Kazinda after he lost interest in defending himself in a case that has taken 8 years to be determined last week informed presiding justice Tibulya that he is frustrated wit the slow pace at which the IGG was denying him a fair hearing and asked court to determine the case with out his defense saying he will not be appearing in court any more.

However, Justice Tibulya ordered the judiciary to find him a lawyer so that she can hear and dispose off the case as soon as possible which the judiciary was able to fulfill today.
Justice Tibulya has now given Wameeli team two weeks to analyse the case records and he says that he will be meeting his client to see if he still wants to produce more witnesses for his defense or wants to sum up the case and court deliver its judgement.

The said case is the last case still pending in court against him and it has seen him still held up in Luzira prison despite being set free by the court of appeal and recently the constitution court .
The case has been adjourned to the 28th of August .
Kazinda had stated that its unfair and unjust that the Inspectorate of government is using the said case to deny him his freedom yet even the constitutional court dismissed charges against him in relation to the said case.

The frustrated Kazinda says that for the past 8 years since he was first charged in 2013, the IGG has failed to complete the said case denying him his right to speedy trial and justice.

IGG accuses Kazinda of amassing wealth amounting to 4.6 billion shillings which is not inline with his known income.

According to the IGG, Kazinda’s estimated income as a public servant from 2009 to 2012 was 83.7 million shillings.

Kazinda has been in Luzira prison since 2013 when he was convicted on unlawfully possessing government stores and sentenced to five years and despite finishing the said sentence he is still held in prison due to pending charges that continue to be brought against him by the state.

By the time of his arrest on illicit enrichment charges, IGG found out that Kazinda had rented Constellation suites in Nakasero and apartments in Kampala for ten months at a cost of 210 million shillings, had a house and land at Kyadondo , Mengo West valued at 3.1bn, cars including BMW,Mercedes Benz, ML class, Dodge Saloon car all valued at 769 million shillings and diverting over 20bn government funds.

Boda boda riders drag government to court

By Sania Babirye

Bodaboda riders under their umbrella organization the National federation of professional cyclists Network(NFPC) and four others have dragged government to the high court over their continued ban from carrying passengers during the ongoing partial lock down.

Through their lawyers of Anthony Wameeli and company advocates, the cyclist say the decision by government to not allow them from carrying passengers is not demonstrably, justifiably in a Democratic society and in fringes and threatens their economic right to carry out their lawful occupation trade or business.

These also accuse government of stopping them to carry passengers without giving them another alternative for their well fair

These have now asked court to compel government to immediately allow people engaged in the bodaboda business to carry passengers and cargo again.