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President Has A Right to Express Views on Bail Reforms-Justice Owiny-Dollo

Justice Dollo says that there is nothing wrong with Museveni expressing his views as a citizen and an elected leader, contrary to the debate it has garnered among Ugandans.
Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dolo speaks during an interview at the Kitgum Chief Magistrates Chamber on Monday.

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Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has said that President Museveni has a right to express his views on bail reforms.

In an interview in Kitgum Municipality, Dollo says that there is nothing wrong with Museveni expressing his views as a citizen and an elected leader, contrary to the debate it has garnered among Ugandans.

Museveni’s back to back statements recently calling for the scrapping of bail and police bond for capital offenders has sparked wide condemnation from a section of lawmakers and human rights defenders in the country. Museveni said that bail is “provocative” and “interferes” with the investigation.

But many describe his move as a deliberate attempt to overturn the constitution and deny suspects mostly his political opponents their rights to bail and police bond as enshrined in article 23(6) of the constitution and section 25 of the police act.

Justice Dollo however says the President is only selling his ideas to the Parliament. He notes that once Parliament takes the idea and amends the law, the judiciary will implement it but only when it doesn’t contravene any provision in the constitution.

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Justice Dollo says the public should get away from the debate and leave the President to express and sell his views. He however says that the Judiciary will not hesitate to strike down the amended law if it contravenes the constitution.

 He says anyone can make such statements like the President but it's subject to debate.

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Asked whether the President's move is an attempt to overshadow the Judiciary roles, Justice Dollo says he won't hesitate to advise the President if the matter he is fronting doesn't follow the legal procedures.

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The cabinet recently endorsed the criminal justice reforms, among them amendments to the 1995 Constitution and the Police Act, to deny suspects on capital offences bail or police bond, a move lawmakers and rights defenders believe aims to cement the president's interests.

However late last month retired Supreme court judge George Kanyeihamba together with five human rights activists sued President Museveni for his move to scrap bail applications and release of suspects on police bond.

The President was sued jointly with his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party and the Attorney General who is accused of endorsing amendments on bail and recommending for alteration of section 25 of the Police Act.

The petitioners alleged the President’s remarks are unconstitutional and contravene several articles of the constitution and international treaties to which Uganda is a signatory.

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