Centre for Public Interest Law- News Letter
The holiday season has begun and we are overjoyed and immensely proud as we look back at the humble progress that we have made as an organization in the course of project year 2017. As we delight in the successes, we acknowledge that overcoming the challenges has made us stronger and bolder in the pursuit of our vision for a just, equal and dignified society. We could not have done this without your support and through partnerships with various institutions and organizations with a common goal of achieving good governance.
In the last quarter, CEPIL proactively engaged The Chief Justice and The Deputy Chief Justice of The Republic of Uganda. These engagements were tuned towards elaborating on the concept of the Judiciary Score Card project; a CEPIL initiative in close collaboration with the judiciary aimed at ultimately improving the quality of service delivery in administration of justice across the country.
CEPIL also partnered with Transparency International Uganda (TIU) and The Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) to celebrate the Anti- Corruption Week with the aim of continuously advocating for the fight against the vice of corruption which is structurally rooted in our society today.
We also took active participation in advocacy initiatives organized by the Hub for Investigative Media (HIM) and the Human Rights Network for Journalists in Uganda in enhancing access to information, as well as continuing to make a case for press freedom and media independence in Uganda.
CEPIL participated in a strategy meeting of the Coalition In Support of the Independence of the Judiciary (CISTIJ) to bolster efforts geared towards ensuring administrative and financial autonomy of the Judiciary as the third arm of government.
We have learnt a lot from the formation and engagement of partnerships and acknowledge that progress is impossible without change and those who fear change fear progress.
On behalf of Management and Staff of CEPIL, allow me wish you a splendid festive season; prosperous and progressive 2018.
Ag. ED CEPIL
The Judiciary Score Card Project: Enhancing Efficiency in the administration of Justice
CEPIL was privileged to hold meetings with The Chief Justice and The Deputy Chief Justice in the month of November 2017. These high-level engagements were carefully crafted to elaborate and further elucidate on the concept of the Judiciary Score Card Initiative to the top management of the institution of the Judiciary. The judiciary score card project is a CEPIL initiative in close consultation with the institution of the judiciary geared towards enhancing efficiency in the administration of justice. The meetings also sought to strike consensus on the overall value-addition of the score card initiative in line with service delivery by the institution of the judiciary. CEPIL outlined the process design of the score card project, including parameters used to gauge effectiveness with which the judiciary administers justice.
These engagements were fruitful in achieving a comprehensive buy-in of the project tenet by the institution of the Judiciary. The project idea was deemed fitting to enhancing service delivery by the institution of the judiciary to the citizens on whose behalf it dispenses justice. The institution is desirous of improving service delivery from the perspective of administration of justice and therein approved the tools designed to facilitate effective collection of raw data from the judiciary during project assignment. The score card will be balanced on the backdrop of the numerous external and institutional challenges faced by the institution of the Judiciary in Uganda.
The engagements with the top management of the judiciary has served as an important proactive advocacy initiative by CEPIL for efficiency in the administration of justice by the institution.
CEPIL, together with Transparency International Uganda (TIU) and the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda (ACCU) co-sponsored and together held a series of activities to commemorate the Anti-Corruption Week. Highlights of the week included a joint press conference and a dialogue on promoting transparency and accountability as an effective tool of fighting the vice of corruption. At the joint press conference led by TIU and attended by CEPIL, ACCU and Rwenzori Anti-Corruption Coalition (RAC); the actors called for strong political will in the fight against corruption by putting mechanisms that ensure public institutions and individuals holding public offices exude morally high levels of transparency and accountability. The actors also called upon all persons of good will at all levels of society to join the fight against the vice of corruption which in itself is the biggest impediment to service delivery for citizens across the country.
CEPIL also participated in a panel discussion at a dialogue on the theme promoting transparency and efficiency within the institution of the judiciary. CEPIL presented initiatives it is rolling out as an organization to promote efficiency and transparency in the institution of the Judiciary. Of particular interest to the theme of the dialogue, CEPIL presented the Score Card initiative which is geared towards ensuring accountability of judicial officers while effecting their mandate of dispensing justice. Also in the same line of accountability and transparency, CEPIL presented its engagement of stakeholders in advocacy dialogues to discuss how the appointment processes of judicial officers by the Judicial Service Commission can best be made transparent and fair to all applicants. We presented the idea of Awards to exemplary judicial officers and courts that are excelling in their duties.
Coalition In Support of The Independence of the Judiciary (CISTIJ)
Promoting Judicial Independence
The coalition in support of the independence of the judiciary are like minded institutions and organizations that have coalesced efforts to advocate for administrative and financial autonomy of the third arm of government. The coalition was launched in May 2017 at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel. In the same month, the coalition appeared before the legal and parliamentary affairs committee to advocate for increased budget funding for the judiciary as the third arm of government as well as the passing of the administration of judiciary bill. The administration of judiciary bill seeks to empower the judiciary for administrative and financial autonomy.
The coalition met this month to discuss ways with which it can bolster implementation of its strategy by employing public interest litigation, advocacy and partnerships to promote independence of the judiciary in Uganda.
The State and The Media: Partners in the Democratization Process
On the evening of 12th December 2017, an online article titled “Rights Groups Warn Government Over Continued Detention of Red Pepper Journalists” appeared in the Daily Monitor Newspaper. This article was written as follow up to an early morning breakfast strategic meeting organized by the Human Rights Network for Journalists in Uganda (HRNJ-U) at Imperial Royale Hotel and attended by media owners, editors, media personalities, media development and media rights organization and advocates among others. As a participant at the breakfast meeting, the title of the article was misleading and misrepresented the views expounded upon as legally straight forward strategies for the media industry in advocating for its rightful democratic space in the governance of our society. The gathering at Imperial Royale Hotel that morning was simply putting forward a straight case for respect of media rights, press freedom and media independence by the state and other arms of government. This was in response to the continued detention of Red Pepper Editors and Journalists over a story deemed threatening to national security published on Monday November 20th 2017 alleging a plot by the Ugandan government to overthrow the government in Rwanda.
As a point of departure, the 12th December gathering of media and human rights organization was lawful in every sense. They urged the state to respect media freedoms and freedoms of expression as enshrined in our nation’s supreme law – The Constitution. They advocated for the release of the Editors and Journalists under detention and expressed unwavering solidarity with their colleagues for the greater good of the media industry as a whole. Truth aside, the November 20th article may have bruised some egos at the “top” with possibility of releasing information considered a threat to national security. Even then, the state has all the necessary legal apparatuses at its disposal to expeditiously handle a matter of this nature while observing rule of law and respect for individual suspect’s rights. Uganda has a fully functional state with an operationally competent institution of the judiciary to handle matters of such nature fairly without delay and infringement upon rights of suspects. Article 23 Clause 1 (a) to (g) of the Constitution is very clear on the need to present a suspect before court not later than forty-eight hours from time of his/her arrest. This is also in tandem with Article 28 of our nation’s Constitution which seeks for fair, speedy and public hearing before an independent and impartial court or tribunal in the determination of civil rights of a suspect. We therefor urge the state to desist from unlawfully lengthy detention of suspects while respecting constitutionalism and rule of law when faced with circumstances such as that of the Red Pepper Editors and Journalists under detention. Having said this, our honest and continues call for professionalism and balanced analytical reporting can not go unmentioned. It is of cardinal importance that the industry of the media adopts responsible and balanced analytical reporting standards to guarantee curving out its niche in the development discourse of our society. The media, often referred to as “The Fourth Estate” plays a critically important role in the democratization process of a nation. The state needs the media as a powerful vehicle of communication to its citizens. As opposed to being adversaries, the two entities ought to seek a more collaborative approach of working together towards the democratization and ultimate development of Uganda.
Programmes Manager CEPIL
- Launch of the Score Card Report
- Uganda Police-Media Freedom Partnership Engagement
- Media Freedom Dialogue