CEPIL has in the past handled a number of projects but is currently working on three major projects. These include the Media freedom, Judiciary project and Land rights project.
Each of these projects is operationalized under three major themes; public interest litigation, action-oriented research and advocacy activities which include training and lobbying.
- Media Freedoms Project; Enhancing Democratic space for the media industry in Uganda
This project is aimed at achieving a free press and an independent and responsible media in Uganda. The media is a powerful tool in shaping and directing the minds of citizens of any nation. Over the years, we noted with concern incidences where the media was gagged by Government entities through acts such as, shutting down of media houses, closing of radio stations, restrictive directives issued by the Uganda Communication Commission and brutalizing of journalists reporting certain stories. Additionally within the media there is low quality of news reporting by the journalists. All these factors point to a weak institution whose rights are being suppressed.
Key interventions under this project has been the institution of Public Interest Cases challenging provisions under certain Acts and requiring interpretation of certain provisions within the Acts.
- CEPIL& Hon Abdu Katuntu Vs Attorney General, Constitutional Petition No. 60/2011
This case seeks to assert the right to access to information. Oil Agreements were made between the Government and certain investors and the details of these agreements were never made public. A petition was filed to allow citizens access to information in the agreements that were executed by the Government on their behalf.
- CEPIL, Human Rights Network for Journalists& East African Media Institute V Attorney General. Constitutional Petition N0.9/2014.
This case was filed to seeking an interpretation on the broad powers granted to the minister under the Press and Journalists Act that allows him/her to make any laws to govern the workings of the journalists. These broad powers unfettered powers create room for abuse of office. The right to freedom of expression is therefore curtailed.
- Edward Ronald Sekyewa V NEMA Civil Suit No.950/2014 at Mengo Chief Magistrate'sCourt
In this case, the court was petitioned to allow the Plaintiff access to information regarding the persons who had been allowed by the defendant, a government body to settle in a wetland and what criteria was used to allow these settlements. This case seeks to assert the right to information to ensure that the process followed by Government are always in the best interests of the citizens.
- Edward Ronald Sekyewa Vs Makerere University Civil Suit No. 949/2014 at Mengo Chief Magistrate's Court.
In this case we seek to assert the right of access to information by the general public. The Plaintiff requested for a list of members who were admitted to Makerere University on statehouse sponsorship and what criteria was used to award these scholarships. This information should be readily available to public to show the transparency in the section criteria.
- Centre for Public Interest Law, Human Rights Network For Journalists & East African Media Institute Vs Attorney General, Constitutional Petition No. 36/2014.
The Uganda Communications Act gives broad powers to the Commission to license media houses without stating the minimum requirements and also allows the minister to give directives as he/she deems fit to the media houses. This case therefore Challenges the constitutionality of the Acts it restricts the right to freedom of expression.
- Ronald Ssembuusi Vs Attorney General of Uganda, Reference No. 16 of 2014 at the East African Court of Justice
This case challenges the old repugnant law on criminal defamation which restricts the right to freedom of expression. This offence has been repealed in certain jurisdictions and we have engaged the court to endure that it is also repealed in East Africa as a whole.
(v) CEPIL V AG , Constitutional Petition No, 40 of 2015 ( Sub judice Petition).
This case challenges the sub-judice rule which prevents the citizens from enjoying their right to access to information at that material time. We seek orders from court to pronounce this rule as unconstitutional
One of our success stories
under this project is the case of Mulindwa Mukasa Vs Julius Caesar Tusingwire High Court Miscellaneous Cause No. 58/2014 where the Plaintiff a journalist who was brutalized by police officers under the command of the defendant was sued in his personal capacity for acts committed in his line of duty. The parties settled the matter out of court where the defendant admitted liability apologized and compensated the plaintiff for injuries suffered.
This case sends a strong message about personal liability and prevents any future acts of the police in brutalizing journalists.
Additionally we have engaged in dialogues aimed at increasing the awareness on the meaning of freedom of expression.
- Judiciary project; Enhancing Judicial Independence in Uganda by promoting an accountable and effective institution of the judiciary.
CEPIL in 2016 launched the state of Judiciary Report highlighting the institutional and external weaknesses of the Judiciary that prevented the institution from effectively dispensing justice. Key amongst the things that prevented effective delivery of justice was the lack of proper mechanisms to monitor the performance of the judiciary.
As a way to improve on service delivery, the project is implementing a score card aimed at appraising the performance of the judiciary in the delivery of justice. The score card is being compiled and it will be launched early next year.
- Land project; Deepening property right rights for indigenous communities holding land under customary land tenure system in Northern Uganda
This project is based in Acholi Land which is found in the northern part of Uganda. The northern part of Uganda has a customary tenure system in which Land is owned customarily. Owing to the weak laws that given the customary tenure system in Uganda, and the insurgency in the north, many individuals and district officials took advantage and sold off the land to land grabbers. When the people returned from the camps they found that their land had been taken over and they had no homes to live in or land to carry out any farming activities.
These authorities that were meant to preserve the status quo during this period abused their authority and engaged in wide spread land grab and this has led to increase in land disputes. As a response strategy, we have using the knowledge of the law run a project that aims at corporatizing the clan to enable them protect their land. We assisted the Bwobo clan to form a trust and using that trust model they were able to file a suit with our legal aid services against the land grabbers. We intend to replicate these models with two other clans; the Puranga and Lamogi Clan.