David Musiri, a student activist at Makerere University has been in and out of jail for various reasons. He told URN that he was once denied bail, simply because his sureties couldn’t present introductory letters from their Local Council 1 Chairpersons despite presenting their National IDs.
National identity-ID card continues to gain currency across various
institutions in country, the Court system is still skeptical about relying on
it solely to offer bail to citizens. Bail is an agreement between the court,
the accused and their sureties committing to return to court when summoned to
agrees to release the suspects until proven guilty, which grants them temporary
freedom. Once suspects apply for bail, they are required to present substantial sureties
and valid identification documents including the National IDs among
Since the enactment of the law on
registration of persons that establishes the provision for the issuance of
national and alien identification cards and the ID cards have become key in
court processes. However, they are yet
to be fully relied on for courts. This
reporter set out to establish the complex issues surrounding the National IDs
and its acceptability in court.
David Musiri, a student activist at Makerere
University has been in and out of jail for various reasons. He told URN that he
was once denied bail, simply because his sureties couldn’t present introductory
letters from their Local Council 1 Chairpersons despite presenting their National
IDs. He says some of his sureties have had their National IDs confiscated
by Court, to their detriment.
Musiri says one is likely to stay on remand
simply because the would-be sureties fear handing over their National IDs to
court fearing that they could be retained.
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Several lawyers interviewed by our reporter say
it is a common behavior for courts to confiscate sureties’ National IDs, which
contravenes provisions in the Registration of Persons Act, 2015. Human
Rights activist and lawyer, Eron Kiiza of Kiiza and Mugisha Company Advocates,
says some courts have been making people's life difficult well knowing the
centrality of a national ID in the ordinary life of Uganda today.
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Counsel Kiiza argues that some courts go ahead
and insist that sureties and persons granted bail must deposit their national
IDs with Court and one of the bail terms. “This
condition is onerous, very inconvenient and ought to be abandoned by courts
even as they have the legal power to insist on depositing the IDs with them.
Courts ought to only retain the photocopies,” says Kiiza.
City lawyer Godfrey Akakimpa says prior to the
introduction of National IDs, courts were using Village ID and introduction
letters from LC 1 and or passports for identification. Akakimpa
argues however that at times Police blocks a person’s bail to create ground for
“Of course retaining someone's National ID is illegal, the judicial
officer is supposed to inspect the ID to confirm whether information on ID
corresponds with info given by the surety,” he says.
The Deputy Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo
told Uganda Radio Network the value of a National ID in an interview, saying it
answers questions about ones’ citizenship. He says whoever one’s your national
ID must be satisfied, unless there is a doubt on its authenticity.
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The head of the Constitutional Court further
argues that while a National ID is supposed to create way for any citizen, for
courts to release someone from bondage, careful consideration must be
undertaken since the person is to be released to go out and wait for the
hearing from outside the prison.
“That person could flee, that person can do
anything and so you need somebody, we say substantial. Somebody who is
respectable in society,” Justice Owiny-Dollo said. According to Justice Owiny-Dollo, the National
ID only confirms one’s citizenship but does not explain what they do, where
they stay, which he says requires an introductory letter preferably from an LC 1.