According to Dr Tusasirwe, the courts were initially not designed as rights enforcement mechanisms but as instruments of law and order and regulation of transactions such as business, land and marriage among others. He argues that in their current state, courts look at enforcement of rights as a secondary role.
Makerere University Law Don Dr
Benson Tusasirwe says that courts in Uganda are structurally and
institutionally incapable of enforcing human rights enshrined in the laws of
According to Dr Tusasirwe, the
courts were initially not designed as rights enforcement mechanisms but as
instruments of law and order and regulation of transactions such as business,
land and marriage among others. He
argues that in their current state, courts look at enforcement of rights as a secondary
This is part of the findings in
his five-year research; “The Judicial enforcement of the rights to freedom of Political
Assembly and Association in Uganda.” In
the study, leading to his law PhD, Dr Tusasirwe investigated the state of
political assembly and association in Uganda and the role that courts have
played in their enforcement.
“You go to Court complaining
about rights, they deal with it in a mechanical manner as a law and order question.
If you’re arrested, they don’t look at the fact that you are arrested while
demonstrating yet demonstrating is a right. They see you as a criminal, a
rioter, and not someone enforcing his rights which are enshrined in the
Constitution,” he states.
Dr Tusasirwe says the rights of
freedom of assembly and demonstration under-write other rights because they are
a means to obtain the rest of the rights and freedoms. He argues that while courts of judicature
have sometimes made bold decisions in defence of the rights, their decisions
have not gone far enough.
//Cue in; “Freedom of political…
Cue out… rights are
He adds that in the absence of a
fundamental change in the political and socio-economic order, Courts will
continue making pronouncements but will not credibly act as consistent
guardians of the rights.
Dr Tusasirwe recommends among
others training of judicial officers to further appreciate their role in
the advancement of these rights, elimination of corruption, and elimination of case
backlog which delays and frustrates justice.
//Cue in; “By the nature of the
Cue out…and assert them.”//
On the practice of human rights
litigation, Dr Tusasirwe says Uganda has few lawyers devoted to defending human
rights and that many run away from it because it is not economically
viable. He says that in addition to meagre financial benefits, oftentimes, the human rights lawyers are treated as
criminals and at times meet the wrath of state apparatus and the public in
their defence for the rights.
//Cue in; “By the time…
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Dr Tusasirwe is the only PhD
graduand from the school of law for Makerere University’s 70th graduation, that
concluded recently. Although under normal circumstances he should have
completed his PhD in four years, he says it took him five years to conclude the