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Constitutional Court Dismisses Besigye’s Petition Challenging Preventive Arrest

However, Judiciary Public Relations Officer Jameson Karemani has clarified that Besigye can have the case reinstated if he or his lawyers are willing to show up for the hearing.
His Lordship Egonda Ntende was the head of the Panel that dismissed the petitions. File Photo


A panel of five Constitutional Court Judges has dismissed the petition in which four times presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye wanted a charge of preventive arrest repealed from the Police Act. 

 

The Justices led by Fredrick Egonda -Ntende on Monday dismissed the petition that has been in the Justice system for nine years after Besigye and his lawyers from A.F. Mpanga and Company Advocates failed to turn up in court for its hearing.   Other Justices on the panel are; Elizabeth Musoke, Cheborion Barishaki, Muzamiru Kibeedi and Irene Mulyagonja.

Besigye’s petition has also been dismissed after the Attorney General’s representative, State Attorney Charity Nabaasa told the Justices that government had not yet filed its response to the petition. 

Nabaasa argued that the State Attorney familiar with the case had been placed under COVID -19 quarantine and as such, the Attorney General did not put in their response to the petition. 

However, Judiciary Public Relations Officer Jameson Karemani has clarified that Besigye can have the case reinstated if he or his lawyers are wiling to show up for the hearing.     

Besigye filed his petition on October 28 2011 through his lawyers of A.F Mpanga ten days after he had been arrested during the protests of Walk to Work and put under house arrest on what the police termed as preventive arrest.

The protests in question were started on April 11 2011 by Activists for Change (A4C) and other opposition politicians who were protesting the high commodity and fuel prices in the country. 

As a result, Besigye was on October 18 2011 reportedly arrested on the orders of the then Regional Police Commander for Kampala North, Stephen Tanui, a few meters from his home as he walked to Najjanankumbu for official duties.   

 

Besigye alleges that he was put on a police pickup and taken to Kasangati Police Station from where they told him that he was under preventive arrest. He was reportedly taken back to his home where he found dozens of security officers led by the then Rapid Response Unit officer Joel Aguma who also put him under house arrest.  

  Court also heard that a large numbers of police officers and security detectives commanded by the then Deputy Regional Police Commander Operations for KMP ASP Sam Omala occupied his farm land and stopped his guests , employees and relatives from accessing him.

As such the police allegedly started screening who visits him and his right to personal liberty, freedom of conscience, expression and assembly as well as right to privacy were violated. He says there was no warrant of arrest or any legal document authorizing the police officers and other state operatives to access and remain on his land.

Court further heard that the security operatives would ease themselves from the paddocks and farm land of Besigye and had thus caused contamination there which he was worried could result into a disease.

Following this, Besigye challenged section 24 of the police Act which gives police powers to arrest anybody who is about to commit a crime against himself or public.

He also challenged section 26 of the Criminal Procedure Act which also gives police similar powers citing that these sections contravene his constitutional right to liberty, freedom of conscience, expression and assembly. 

After the 2016 presidential elections in which he stood and like on previous three occasions he came second, Besigye swore himself in as President of Uganda and was promptly charged with treason. In 2019, when Besigye was seeking the scrapping of the offence of Unlawful Assembly, Constitutional Court judge declined to grant his petition and advised him to seek remedies in his own courts, or the judge who swore him in as President.  

Meanwhile two other petitions including one filed by a person charged with terrorism Edison Mubangizi against the Government have also been dismissed for lack of representation.    

Mubangizi in his petition was challenging the powers given to a Magistrate to cancel the bail given to an accused by High Court once investigations are complete and they have been committed to face trial. 

The Judges were forced to dismiss Mubangizi’s petition after he failed to turn up as well as his lawyers from Alaka and Company Advocates.

The other petition that has been dismissed upon withdraw is for a politician William Esrom Alenyo which he had filed against the Government and the former Nebbi district LC5 Chairperson Robert Okumu. 

Alenyo faulted Okumu for having connived with a chief magistrate to act illegally in recounting the Nebbi LC5 Election results yet it's the role of the Electoral Commission. But he later withdrew his petition and today the withdraw has been endorsed and accordingly dismissed. 

These petitions are part of the 53 matters the Constitutional Court Justices want to hear within this month of October.