Judicial Officer Seeks to Block Sexual Harassment Trial

Opio’s court file is allocated to Justice Musa Ssekaana who is yet to fix a date for hearing.
The Grade one Magistrate filed his application before the High Court Civil Division

The Interdicted former Mbarara Grade One Magistrate, Opio Belmos Ogwang has petitioned the Civil Division of High Court seeking to block his sexual harassment trial before the Judicial Service Commission.

Opio's application is filed before the Civil Division of High Court by his lawyers of Masereka, Mangeni and Company Advocates.

He wants his trial blocked until the determination of the main suit where he is challenging the legality of being interdicted for more than five years with half pay.    

Opio was appointed as a Grade One Magistrate on June 10th, 2008 and confirmed into service on September 20th, 2010 by the Judicial Service Commission.

However, on April 2nd, 2015, Opio was interdicted on sexual harassment allegations. According to the letter seen by Uganda Radio Netowrk - URN, the then Chief Registrar Paul Gadenya Wolimbwa interdicted Opio following a complaint of sexual harassment lodged against him by a former female clerk at Kyenjonjo Chief Magistrates Court.

Wolimbwa wrote in his letter that following such, the Judiciary Internal Disciplinary Committee found that the misconduct was grave and besides, it was the second time it was handling sexual harassment cases against the same Opio. 

The other case had been filed against him by an accused person in a criminal matter in 2011 in Kumi District.  But, Opio was given a warning then. 

As a result, Opio’s matter was forwarded to the Judicial Service Commission for action and he denied the charges against him in July 2015.  

But since then, Opio says that the Disciplinary Committee of the Judicial Service Commission has never concluded his matter and has kept him on interdiction for five years. The mandatory period for interdiction is not more than six months, according to Public Service Standing Orders.

Opio adds that the Judicial Service Commission by failure to conclude his case is a violation of his right to fair and speedy hearing. He wants court to stay the proceedings before the Judicial Service Commission pending the determination of the main suit in which he is challenging the legality of interdicting him for more than five years.

Should court fail to stay the trial, Opio is worried that he will face irreparable damages since his career growth has been stunted.

According to Julius Mwebembezi, the Judicial Service Commission Registrar for the Directorate of Planning, Research and Inspectorate,  the Commission cannot comment on this matter because they have not yet been served with copies of Opio’s court documents.

“We have not yet been served with the court documents. That could be a recent matter,” Mwebembezi told URN on phone.  

Opio’s court file is allocated to Justice Musa Ssekaana who is yet to fix the hearing date.