The High Court
in Kampala has rejected a request to hear a case demanding the unconditional
release of 74 National Unity Platform Supporters arrested in the just concluded
Civil Division Judge Boniface Wamala on Wednesday rejected the request made by
City Lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima requiring the court to hear the application during
Turyamusiima filed the case on Tuesday arguing that it is more than 120 days
since the 74 people were arrested and that the Human Rights Enforcement Act
provides that they can be released unconditionally from their detention if the
trial has not commenced within that time.
However, when the lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, Chief
Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo banned hearing of all cases with exception of those
that require urgency.
Turyamusiima through his lawyer Anthony Wameli filed another application
seeking to consider their case as one that needs to be heard urgently on
grounds that; the applicants are unreasonably detained and that their
right to personal liberty and the fair hearing continues to be heard even
during the lockdown if at all their case is not heard during the nationwide
However, in his ruling, Justice Wamala rejected the application on grounds that
the charging of the suspects in a court-martial is not illegal per-say and that
many Ugandans haven’t been tried and are on remand and also fall in that
The courts have been operating during the lockdown but have been strictly
having only one judge or judicial officer on duty per week to handle cases to
attend to. For instance, new cases of plea taking, registration of new
civil matters and hearing of applications demanding for production of people
who have been detained beyond 48 hours without being charged.
Justice Wamala, says that if courts were to be open for hearing of cases like
that one demanding for the release of suspects already in prison, given that
there is limited manpower operating at 10 percent, the courts would be
overwhelmed and it would water down the real cases that need to be handled with
dismissed the request adding that he has left the case to be handled any time
at the discretion of the Judge to whom the file will be allocated.
Lawyer Anthony Wameli says that he is not happy with the decision because the
Judge using the COVID-19 lockdown situation to further suppress the rights of their
clients in jail.
//Cue in: “I also don’t…
out: ….be a justification”. //
//Cue in: “Ekisoka ekilwadde COVID…
Cue out: ….nga tebafuna bwenkanya”.//
This is not
the only case filed by Wameli and Company Advocates that have been rejected by
the High Court.
Justice Musa Ssekaana rejected the request to have an application challenging
torture of the suspects implicated in the Katumba Wamala shooting heard during