With 23 top judicial jobs falling vacant in the coming months, the process to replace them has taken on greater importance with the general quality of the bench for the next couple of years at stake.
Positions set to fall vacant include that of the deputy chief justice, two judges of the Supreme court, four judges of the Court of Appeal and 16 judges of the High court.
While the steps to be taken before one is appointed a judge are clearly laid out in the Constitution, this has not stopped reports about politics getting in the way of ability and integrity or judicial officers getting positions they didn’t apply for.
In response to persistent complaints about corruption in the judiciary, Chief Justice Bert Katureebe has been vocal in his condemnation of the vice, while at the same time lamenting that he has no powers to discipline errant judicial officers.
However, there would be fewer, if any, errant judges in the first place if the recruitment process was more transparent, meticulous and rigorous. It is, therefore, encouraging that Uganda Law Society has expressed interest in the ongoing recruitment process and seeks to play a constructive role.
According to their letter released this week, ULS, which was asked by the Judicial Service Commission to help identify and recommend suitable candidates, wants selected individuals to pass not only the intellectual competence test but also “a consistent history of honesty and moral character in professional and personal life.”
The ULS further insists that candidates it is to recommend sign the International Bar Association (IBA) anti-corruption compact to demonstrate an uncompromising stand against corruption.
With lawyers, who form the pool from which magistrates and judges are chosen, generally not enjoying high perception indicators in the public sphere, the best stage at which to stop unscrupulous judges is at the entry point.
It is, therefore, incumbent on stakeholders such as Uganda Law Society to support the Judicial Service Commission in ensuring that the right people are hired in the right places.
These vacancies provide a good opportunity to raise the bar (pun intended) for our judicial officers, and we must not let it go to waste.
Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang Tells Museveni to be Careful With Oil
Uganda is looking to tap into Equatorial Guinea’s experience of oil production, in order to build its own capacity… Read more »
Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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opinionBy Maria Burnett (Director, East Africa and the Horn)
“When you hear of my arrest, prepare your most comfortable clothes for you will soon be travelling to my village-home in Kalinga to bury me in the brown earth next to my father. When you hear of my arrest, tell the judge assigned to my case that I forgive the injustice with which the trial will be tried… “
Ugandan academic and firebrand feminist critic Dr. Stella Nyanzi posted those words on her Facebook page on March 31. On April 7, after a talk at Kampala’s Rotary Club about her campaign to raise money to buy sanitary pads for schoolgirls, her words came true; 21 days later, she remains behind bars.
For her sexually explicit stories and pointed criticism of government – in a frank and often expletive-laden mix of English and Luganda – Nyanzi grew a significant following on social media. In a conservative country, she shocked many. But she drew popular support, arguing that President Yoweri Museveni and his wife, the minister of education, had broken election promises to provide sanitary pads to school girls. After 31 years in office, she argued, Museveni was “raping” the constitution by staying in power.
In March, she was interrogated by police, and the government blocked her from traveling to attend an international conference on March 19. State agents arrested her after the Rotary event, and police charged her under Uganda’s Computer Misuse Act for referring to Museveni as a “pair of buttocks” on Facebook.
It would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic: the most flagrant attack on free expression in many years and a vengeful use of Uganda’s justice system to silence a government critic.
Nyanzi has been denied bail, spending the Easter holidays in prison. State attorneys argue she should undergo a psychiatric examination to determine if she has an “unsound mind” – a tactic to delegitimize her criticism. Prison officials have, at times, denied her access to her lawyers, to her three young children, and to her books and writing materials.
The court is to re-hear her bail application on May 10, but, if the psychiatric examination is ordered by court, she could still face detention in an institution – even without the criminal case.
Prosecutors should drop the charges against Nyanzi. All officials should expect criticism, even if it’s rudely worded. To criticize the president, to use vulgarity and metaphor to shock or inspire, are recognized rights.
If Nyanzi isn’t granted bail or faces a psychiatric examination, it will speak volumes, and we must respond just as loudly.
Apr 28 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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By Mariam Said
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, has temporarily conferred the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam with a status of High Court to determine murder cases, in a special dispensation expected to end next month.
The move has been made in consultation with the Chief Justice and Attorney General (AG) as per section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) – under which some principal resident magistrates could be, and have been, given what is called in law as ‘extended jurisdiction’ to hear such cases.
These magistrates will now hear the murder cases in much the same way as by normal judges of the High Court in the ongoing special sessions countrywide; it’s all part of current efforts and Judiciary’s strategy to ensure time delivery of justice to the parties involved in the cases concerned.
Under this arrangement, the four magistrates who have been conferred with such jurisdiction would hear and determine about 20 murder cases as from pre-taking to full hearing stages. Extended Jurisdiction, as it’s called, is power given to a resident magistrate to hear matters that would otherwise fall under the original jurisdiction of the High Court.
Accordingly, appeal from a decision of the magistrate with extended jurisdiction is lodged in the Court of Appeal. Section 173 (1) reads: “The Minister may after consultation with Chief Justice and Attorney General invest any resident magistrate with power to try any category of offences which, would ordinarily be tried by the High Court and may specify the area within which he may exercise such extended powers.
“(He) may invest any such magistrate with power to try any, specified case or cases of such offences and such magistrate shall, by virtue of the order, have the power, in respect of the offences specified in the order to impose any sentence which could lawfully be imposed by the High Court.
Sub-section (3) states, “For the purposes of any appeal from or revision of his decision in the exercise “of such jurisdiction, such the resident magistrate shall be deemed to be a judge of the High Court, and the court presided over by him while exercising such jurisdiction shall be deemed to be the High Court.”
Gold Regains Status As Tanzania’s Top Export
Gold has regained its prestigious position as Tanzania’s largest non-traditional goods export, thanks to a rise in value… Read more »
Apr 27 2017 | Posted in Tanzania
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By Louis Kolumbia
Dar es Salaam — CCM national executive secretary of ideology and publicity, Mr Humphrey Polepole, said he supports the Draft Constitution produced by defunct Constitution Reforms Commission (CRC) that was chaired by Judge (rtd) Joseph Warioba because it constitutes people’s opinions.
Speaking to MCL Digital team during his impromptu visit yesterday, he said CCM was cleaning up and reorganising itself by accommodating and practising the wishes of the people in order to smoothen completion of the process once it is resumed. “We are reforming CCM to ensure people’s opinions are respected and prioritised. We want public servants to respect the people and ensure no elements of selfishness remain in their minds,” he said, adding:
“The ruling party is aware that the document was a reflection of people’s demands, they want one person to hold one leadership position. Leadership positions should be separated from business and that is what we are doing,” he said.
According to Mr Polepole, a former CRC commissioner recent step to sack 12 senior members, demoting six and warning four others for violating rules and regulations was among measures taken to clean up the party, saying the constitution was “food which should be eated with clean hands.” He added:
“Also, the process is holy, requiring clean people, as opposed to the situation in the Opposition where a businessman becomes party chairman holding many other positions.”
Tanzania Maintains Place As Second Largest Military Spender
Tanzania maintained its position as the second largest military spender in East Africa last year as the global… Read more »
Apr 25 2017 | Posted in Tanzania
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By Ken Bett
The High Court in Meru has dismissed a petition seeking to block Meru Governor Peter Munya from defending his seat.
In a ruling made on Thursday, High Court Judge Alfred Mabeya struck out the case saying the petitioner, Mr Isaiah Kithinji, did not exhaust all avenues set out by the State before filing the petition.
Justice Mabeya said that the businessman should have first filed a complaint before the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission before seeking court audience.
He noted that the EACC had already admitted they were probing the county government over various allegations.
“EACC should be allowed to carry [out] the investigation first before the petition is brought to court. The court will not undermine independent institutions, therefore the petition is struck out,” said Justice Mabeya in his ruling.
FREE TO CAMPAIGN
Speaking after the ruling, lawyer Bonbegi Gesicho who held brief for Mr Okong’o Omogeni said the county chief was free to campaign after the ruling.
He asked locals seeking to file similar petitions in future to follow the right procedures before rushing to courts.
The businessman had moved to court seeking to have the PNU leader stopped from defending his seat, citing financial impropriety in his administration for the last five years.
Through lawyer Kiogora Mugambi, Mr Kithinji sought to have Mr Munya barred from presenting his nomination papers.
But Governor Munya told the court that only EACC has powers to bar him from contesting in the August 8 polls.
He said the High Court sitting in Meru lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Do-or-Die Primary Battles in Ruling Party Strongholds
The Jubilee Party strongholds of central Kenya and Rift Valley will see political heavyweights face off in high-stakes… Read more »
Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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By Richard Irakoze
The High Court yesterday sentenced Bernard Munyagishari to life imprisonment after finding him guilty on two counts.
Munyagishari, 57, was convicted of participation in the Genocide against the Tutsi, and killing as a crime against humanity.
He was cleared of rape as the Prosecution failed to present convincing evidence.
During the Genocide, Munyagishari worked in the then ruling party’s secretariat, and attended several meetings in which the Genocide was prepared, the court said.
He was referred to Rwanda for trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in July 2013.
Witnesses testified that every Wednesday and Saturday, Munyagishari used to train Interahamwe militia and supplied them with weapons to use in the killings.
He also played a major role in drawing up lists of Tutsi to be killed and contributed to setting up roadblocks where Tutsi were slaughtered, the judge added.
At the beginning of the hearing, Munyagishari denounced the two lawyers assigned to him by the Rwanda Bar Association claiming they had misunderstandings with their previous clients.
However, the duo, namely Bruce Bikotwa and Jeanne d’Arc Umutesi, continued to help him throughout the trial after the court said his claims were baseless.
His lawyers told the court that they would appeal the sentence.
East Africa’s Cecafa Moot Joint Afcon Bid
The Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) is in slumber as club and national teams’… Read more »
Apr 21 2017 | Posted in Rwanda
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columnBy Karoli Ssemogerere
It is now official; Steven B Kavuma will retire as a Chief Justice in September 2017 about four months from now. His replacement should be in office by December 2017 taking into account the three months given to retiring judicial officers to wind up business and write judgments.
All three superior courts have a number of current and pending vacancies in the near term. The Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and the High Court will see their ranks depleted by retirements; resignations in some instances, for example, Justice Solome Balungi Bossa is running for a judgeship on the International Criminal Court and Justice Byabakama Mugenyi may be gone for as long as 14 years as chairperson of the Electoral Commission.
An even bigger wave will hit the courts in 2018-2020 when the next big wave of judicial retirements will pass ending with the retirement of Chief Justice Bart Katureebe.
So, the next court to possibly hear petitions against the 2021 presidential election and determine important constitutional petitions will be substantially different.
Of all three arms of government the Judiciary seems to be struggling to find its place. The executive branch pays lip service to it. The legislature is also now content to dismiss it at will. The Speaker of Parliament is remembered last year for dismissing a court order issued by Justice Kavuma as a “stupid order”. Parliament sees the Judiciary as always on the side of the executive when a dispute arises between the Judiciary and the Executive.
Second even though it is denied the discreet hand of the Judiciary in attempting to increase the retirement age of Judges last year left them discontented. The fact that they had to lean on Robert Sekitoleko, Nakifuma MP whose education credentials were being challenged in court made it worse.
This selfish attitude derailed critical reforms that are contained in the Administration of Justice Bill and other reforms to restructure the Judiciary. Even after being deterred, some judges were relentless in staying on. This brought back bitter memories of the less than gracious manner in which the members of the Odoki court struggled with assuming emeritus status. Some of them even refused to vacate their chambers later returning as acting (junior) justices.
Last week, the IGG after the Uganda Law Society annual conference wrote to the Chief Justice in a highly copied letter asking him to take charge on corruption in the Judiciary.
The Chief Justice had been quoted saying that he had little or no powers to discipline a judge powers which lie in the Judicial Service Commission.
Of course people listening to the case of a High Court Judge taking a bribe of Shs100m or Shs1b depending on whom you listen to were all wondering whether Police or other law enforcement organs simply went to sleep or do not exist anymore. The exchange was notable because the key players in the communication are aware of these grave allegations and are in unamity that nothing has been done. But the current situation where this and other allegations continue to grow have affected the image of the courts.
The courts must reflect the values of society. Recent rulings in the lower courts show that this becoming something of the past.
The public was left musing in the week before Easter when the Minister of Labour was arraigned and immediately given bail after his aide recanted a confession he gave on allegations of receiving a bribe and blackmailing people associated with Aya Hotel. A similar court found it wise to send a single mother of three children Stella Nyanzi to Luzira for two weeks; who had voluntarily appeared and made statements to police in Kibuli.
This is a scenario that ordinarily would have attracted voices of reason inside the Judiciary causing the file to be called voluntarily for compassionate bail. In this environment, the courts find themselves less worthy of public sympathy, and more as part of the problem.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-at-Law and an Advocate.
Suspended Minister in Sex and Bribe Scandal Faces Fresh Charges
The State yesterday added one more charge against the former junior minister for Labour, Herbert Kabafunzaki, who is… Read more »
Apr 20 2017 | Posted in Uganda
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By Mark Keith Muhumuza
Kampala — The High Court in Kampala has ordered the unblocking of National Social Security Fund (NSSF) accounts that were frozen over a Shs14.2 billion dispute with Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL).
On Tuesday, High Court Registrar Ezekiel Muwanguzi ordered a stay of execution of a temporary garnishee order that had been issued last week to UTL on three bank accounts – Stanbic Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Citi Bank – belonging to NSSF.
The High Court had on Monday last week issued a preliminary garnishee order that the three bank accounts held by NSSF be attached to recover Shs14.3b and costs from NSSF.
According to the order, the unfreezing of the accounts is dependent on NSSF complying with the conditions of a previous consent agreement with UTL. The telecom company, in getting the order to attach the accounts, had alleged that NSSF had failed to provide bank guarantees and a certificate of compliance.
“The applicant shall within 15 days from today deposit with the Registrar High Court an unconditional bank guarantee in the sum of the total decretal/judgment debt valid from time to time until the final disposal of the appeal pending at the Court of Appeal,” the order reads.
In court, UTL had argued that the previously issued bank guarantees had defects and NSSF had on several occasions violated the terms of the consent judgment. On the other hand, NSSF argued that UTL was acting in bad faith to attach three bank accounts yet the matter was still pending in the Court of Appeal.
Commenting on the order to unfreeze the accounts, Mr Richard Byarugaba, the NSSF managing director, said: “… we are happy with the court’s decision and we are keen to continually protect workers’ savings. We believe that the Shs14.2b belongs to a section of former UTL workers and UTL should not circumvent the court process to access the money.”
Following a ruling in May 2016 in which High Court Judge Lydia Mugambe ordered NSSF to pay the contested sum to UTL, the Fund sought permission to appeal, leading to the two parties entering a “consent to stay execution” on May 27, 2016. In the case before Ms Mugambe, UTL had demanded that NSSF refunds a total of Shs14.2b as contributions and interest for about 985 employees. UTL argued that the employees in question were not entitled to NSSF contributions because they had a separate pension scheme.
Suitable Candidate to Replace Museveni Named
The ruling NRM party secretary general has asked the people of Ntungamo District to woo back into the NRM fold former… Read more »
Apr 17 2017 | Posted in Banking
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Photo: The Nation
Mr Jacob Munialo and his wife Terry Munialo look at their son Antony Keya Munialo’s photograph. Keya is one of the four Kenyans jailed in South Sudan (file photo).
By Joseph Oduha
South Sudan’s Court of Appeal has overturned the life sentence handed last year to 16 persons over corruption charges.
The 16, who include four Kenyans, former South Sudan government workers among them top presidential aides and a Central Bank employee were accused of aiding the loss of more than $14 million and another 30 million South Sudanese pounds ($4.93 million).
The money was allegedly withdrawn from the bank and more stolen from the Office of the President.
The officials were sentenced in June last year, after the presiding judge Ladu Armenio found them guilty of forging signatures including that of President Salva Kiir, the army Chief of Staff and other government officials.
The charges read out to the accused include alleged involvement in forgery, fraud, conspiracy to defraud the government, money laundering and terrorism financing which, according to the prosecution resulted in the loss of the money.
In handing the sentence, the judge said all 16 faced equal charges against them.
The South Sudan High Court determined that the incidents were committed during the civil war between 2013 and 2015.
This week on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal ruled out the sentence and referred it back to the High Court in Juba.
Kur Lual, one of the defence lawyers for the convicted officials said that some information to justify the sentencing was missing.
The convicted include former security officer in the Office of the President John Agou Wuoi, former executive director Mayen Wol and former chief administrator Yel Luol.
The Kenyans, who worked at Click Technologies Ltd in South Sudan are Antony Mwadime, Ravi Ghaghda, Boniface Muriuki and Antony Keya.
South Sudan has been ranked among the top corrupt countries in the region, according to Transparency International.
Last year, Enough Project released a report detailing how South Sudanese leaders were looting the country’s resources at the expense of innocent civilians.
The Week That Was
The political week in Kenya began with all eyes on the National Super Alliance, in which a sometimes-tense coalition has… Read more »
Apr 13 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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By Galgalo Bocha
The Kenya National Examinations Council will administer different exams to students in public and private schools once the ongoing new basic education curriculum reforms is operational.
KNEC Deputy Secretary in charge of field administration Mohamud Ibrahim revealed this during the 20th Annual private schools directors conference that has attracted more than 700 delegates at Sai Roc Beach Hotel, Mombasa.
He urged the private kindergartens, primary and secondary school managers to prepare psychologically for the proposed changes in the national examinations.
In his presentation, “changes adopted in the administration of national examinations and the anticipated assessment framework for the basic curriculum reform,” Mr Ibrahim took the managers through the sets of expected national examinations under the new curriculum.
Mr Ibrahim stated that KNEC will develop and administer Kenya Assessment Learners’ Achievement (KALA) and Kenya Certificate of Basic Education (KCBE).
The KNEC deputy secretary also indicated that KALA examinations will be administered to Grade 3 learners to judge their numeracy, literacy and science proficiency.
“We also have Grade 6 KALA for mathematics, Literacy,(reading and writing) and science; Grade 9 KALA – mathematics, English, Integrated science, social studies, Kiswahili/KSL and Pre-vocational studies,” he stated.
He added: “Teachers will conduct classroom assessment from pre-primary to grade 12 while KNEC will develop and administer Kenya Assessment Learners’ Achievement (KALA) and the Kenya Certificate of Basic Education (KCBE).”
He said KCBE will be administered for senior High School (Grade 10 to 12).
“This is a summative Assessment to be developed and administered by KNEC as final examination which will constitute 30 percent while 70 percent will come from the school based assessment,” he said.
He said assessment programs for the new competency based curriculum reform must be an integral part of effective teaching, inform instruction, and should be designed to provide opportunities to a wide range of diverse learners.
He said the assessment should effectively inform learners, parents, teachers, curriculum developers and other stakeholders about performance “in relation to the expectation of approved curriculum learning outcomes at different grade levels.”
KNEC, he said, expects schools to work closely with his agency to eradicate examination irregularities.
“As key stakeholder in the entire examination process, the Council would wish thank you most sincerely for your selfless dedication during the 2016 examinations and look forward to partner with you in 2017 in order to deliver credible examination results,”
Mr Ibrahim told the private school managers that the proposal in the examinations will be communicated once Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) is done with the process.
Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) national chairperson Mutheu Kasanga assured that her members will prepare themselves adequately to implement the new curriculum once ready.
“As key players in the education sector, we are always ready for changes,” added Mrs Kasanga.
Education principal secretary Dr Richard Kipsang is expected to close the conference today.
Apr 13 2017 | Posted in Kenya
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