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Court Rejects Request to Hear Case of 74 NUP Supporters in Lockdown

Civil Division Judge Boniface Wamala on Wednesday rejected the request made by City Lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima requiring the court to hear the application during the lockdown.
28 Jul 2021 19:01
Geoffrey Turyamusiima the lead petitioner.

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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 election campaigns.  

Civil Division Judge Boniface Wamala on Wednesday rejected the request made by City Lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima requiring the court to hear the application during the lockdown.  

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 lockdown. 

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 category. 

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 urgency. Wamala 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…   Cue out:  ….be a justification”. //  

Luganda

 //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. Last week, Justice Musa Ssekaana rejected the request to have an application challenging torture of the suspects implicated in the Katumba Wamala shooting heard during the lockdown. 

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