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.

DPP asks parliament to amend the witchcraft act

By Alice Lubwama
The director of public prosecution Mike Chibita has appealed to parliament to quickly amend the witch craft act so that his office can easily prosecute those people who are caught in acts of child sacrifice.

Speaking during a consultation meeting on the proposed prevention and prohibition of human sacrifice and harmful bill 2017 at parliament ,Chibita said that sometimes his office is constrained to prosecute a matter regarding child sacrifice even when a witch doctor is caught when is about to sacrifice a child.

The proposed bill will replace the witch craft act with intention of fighting increasing rit­ual killings and hu­man sac­ri­fice prac­tices in the country.

The speaker Rebecca Kadaga admitted that parliament had not done enough to stop child sacrifice in the country but asked police and the DPPs office to make adequate investigations to see that the culprits are prosecuted.

Police doesn’t have enough work force to enforce the anti tobacco law

There is lack of sufficient police manpower to enforce the Anti-Tobbaco Law, URN has learnt. Mid this month, government announced the operationalisation of the Anti-Tobacco Law, which seeks to regulate smoking. The law makes it unlawful to sell or operate tobacco-related products or smoke a cigarette within 50 meters from any public facility or place.

The law also criminalizes smoking, importing and selling of shisha and other tobacco products like Kuber, which is packaged in green plastic sachets and sold off the counter in supermarkets. The law also criminalises buying of a stick of cigarette and only allows buying and selling a packet of cigarette.

Despite the operationalisation of the law, URN has learnt that there are only 200 officers trained under the Environmental Police Unit who have received training to enforce the Anti-Tobbaco Law. The force needs more than Shillings 4 billion to train and sensitise police officer across the country to enforce the act. Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, says the public will have to wait until next year before police can begin enforcing the law.

According to Enanga, the officers need to study and internalize the law before they start enforcing it.

URN visited Arua Park in Kampala and spoke to some people who said they were not aware about the Anti-Tobacco law. Our reporter found several people including police officers smoking freely. Brain Mambo, a smoker told URN that he isn’t aware of the law banning smoking in public.

He said in any case if the law exists, government should designate smoking zones in public places such as parks and markets where people can comfortably smoke. Umar Kawooka, who our reporter found smoking freely outside Old Taxi Park, said he didn’t know that smoking in public has been outlawed.

Olive Namusoke, a cigarette vendor outside Kisenyi bus terminal told our reporter that she wasn’t aware that is illegal to display cigarette. She promised to abide with the law, once she gets more information.

Dr. Sheila Ndyanabangi, the National focal person for Tobacco control requested the press to spread information about the law and help reduce the number of people who die due to tobacco related illnesses.

A survey conducted by the Health Ministry in 2014, shows that about 13,500 people die annually due to tobacco related illnesses.  The study also shows that 75 percent of all patients with oral cancers reported at Mulago Hospital in 2008 had a history of tobacco smoking.

Health experts say exposure to tobacco smoke causes diseases including respiratory infections and disease as oral, lung and throat cancers.



MPs query the salary differences of civil servants heading government departments

Uganda Parliament has queried the salary disparities for heads of government departments , authorities and parastatals who do almost the same jobs, saying that the salary pay should be guided by a policy. This was after the parliamentary committee on commissions, statutory authority and state enterprises chaired by Ssemuju Nganda reported to the house   that the governor bank of Uganda Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile earns monthly salary of 53 million shillings while his personal assistant earns 23m per monthly.

Memebers of Parliament questioned why the personal assistant to Mutebile would earn a salary that is far above   what most of the managing and executive directors in government statutory bodies are earning. The report shows further shows that, URA commissioner General  Doris Akol 40 million shillings ,NSSF boss Richard Byarugaba 30 million  C AA boss earns 33 million and Uganda investment Authority boss gets 17 million shillings.  The law makers queried why there is a salary disparity for top government officers  do  almost the same job.

Scottish Parliament petitioned to legalise incest

The Scottish government will be forced to consider legalising incest because of a legal quirk.

On Tuesday the parliament’s petition committee will have to consider a request lodged on Scottish government’s e-petition’s site calling for the legalisation of incest where both parties “are consenting adults over the age of 21”.

The petition was submitted by a man named Richard Morris who lives in Australia.

Under the terms of devolution, the Scottish parliament has to consider all petitions if the propose a change in the law.

He wrote: “Public fears, prejudice and bigotry about ACI are mostly due to ignorance created over many years mostly by the church and church-influenced governments and newspapers, in much the same way as public fears and bigotry about homosexuality were created.

“In general, societies have a tendency to target isolated individuals and to attack anything perceived to be different as a threat”.

He said the Scottish law on incest was “outdated” as public opinion towards sex and relationship was far more liberal than when it was last reviewed in 1981.

Mr Morris – who will not give evidence to the committee – claims to have written a book about incest and has sent letters to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Queen calling on them to do more to legalise consensual incest.

But the petition is unlikely to go any further, with Labour MSP Michael McMahon telling Buzzfeed: “I recognise the petition addresses a subject matter that many people find abhorrent. Speaking personally, I take a similar view”.

Incest typically carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison when both parties are consenting adults.