This CEPIL research and supported petition filed under the umbrella of CISTIJ, seeks to streamline the processes within which the Judiciary receives its funding. The constitution observes and provides for a self-accounting status of the institution of the Judiciary. The Executive is only required to make comments on the budget presented to them by the judiciary to be passed onto Parliament for debate. The budget however is amended by the Executive in stark contrast to provisions in the constitution.
This petition is challenging the constitutionality of the actions of the Executive in approving budgetary framework; inadequate allocation and budget cuts thereby leading to underfunding of the institution of the judiciary rendering it ineffective in discerning its constitutional mandate.
This CEPIL case sought to challenge the constitutionality of the appointment processes of the then Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of Uganda. The petition argued that the appointment and subsequent approval of the then Deputy Chief Justice by the appointments committee in Parliament and His Lordship’s continued occupation of the office in the absence of recommendations from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was illegal and in contravention of specific articles in the constitution of the republic of Uganda.
The Petitioners filed this petition in December 2011 challenging the constitutionality of the then Section 59 of the Petroleum (Exploration & Production) Act Cap 150, the confidentiality clauses in the Petroleum Production Sharing Agreements between Uganda and the various oil companies, and the ‘Guidelines for accessing Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) by Members of Parliament and Authorised Persons’ issued by the Speaker of Parliament in October 2011. Prior to the hearing of the petition, a new, the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act, 2013 law was passed by Parliament repealing Petroleum (Exploration & Production) Act Cap 150. The 2013 Act retained the impugned provisions of Section 59 of Cap 150 under Section 153 of the 2013 Act.
The Petition contended that the non-disclosure of the PSAs on the basis of confidentiality clauses and Section 153 of the 2013 Act (initially Section 59 of Cap 150) was inconsistent with the right of access to information under Article 41 of the Constitution. The Petition further asserted that the Guidelines issued by the Speaker of Parliament on the basis of the impugned section of the Act were inconsistent with Articles 79, 90 and 244 (2) of the Constitution which empower the Parliament to make laws, and specifically laws relating to minerals and petroleum.
The matter came up for hearing on the 27thSeptember 2018, and the panel of the Court observed that the Court has pronounced itself profoundly on the right of access to information, the scope of enjoyment of the right, the acceptable parameters of limiting the said right, and the enforcement of the right. The Court noted that it is the position of the law that Government contracts are public documents which should be accessible to the public. Whereas the Court noted that the Petition raised valid questions for constitutional interpretation, it reserved the view that the questions raised by the Petition are sufficiently addressed by its earlier decisions. The Court further guided that the Petitioners could enforce the right to access information under the Access to Information Act, 2005 and if denied access to the requested information, the Petitioners could proceed under the procedure for enforcement of rights under Article 50 of the Constitution.
The Court however dismissed the Petition without making any declarations on the questions raised by the Petitioners. The CEPIL legal team is examining the outcome of the decision with a view of taking further steps to ensure transparency in oil sector.
Petition against certain provisions of the Press and Journalists Act Cap 105 seeking the Court’s interpretation of the constitutionality of the impugned provisions. The Petition challenges provisions establishing two government-controlled regulatory bodies with wide and significant discretionary powers over the media; restricting the practice of journalism by requiring compulsory licensing and registration of journalists; provisions authorizing significant penalties and sanctions on journalists, including disqualification and suspension from practicing journalism; provisions authorizing the Media Council to censor films and plays.
The petition challenges sections 7, 9 (3),11 (2), (3) & (4), 13, 14 (5), 16 (4)(d), 46 (2), 60 (5), 61(b), 63(2) & (4), 67(1)(f ) &(2), 72(1) & (2) (c), of the Uganda Communications Act No. 1 of 2013 as contravening Articles 29(1), 21 26,28(12),42 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, thereby undermining the right to freedom of expression, the freedom of the press and other media. These sections of the Uganda Communications Act No.1 give the Minister of Information and Communication Technology wide unfettered power to interfere with the operations of the Uganda Communications Commission, contrary to Section 8 of the same law, which provides that the Commission shall exercise its functions independently of any persons or body.These sections of the fore mentioned Act place disproportionate power in the hands of the Minister leaving the Commission dependent on government and, it is because of this disproportionate power that the Minister has issued several policy directives to the Uganda Communications Commission in the recent past that impede the freedom of expression, and the freedom of the Press for instance In the last two years; the Uganda Communications Commission has effortlessly shut down social media and mobile money, banned live broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings and demonstrations, and temporarily closed some radio and television stations in moves that are widely politically motivated, impeding the right of freedom of expression and freedom of press and other media as enshrined in the Constitution.
The petition challenges the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2018, to wit Articles 3, 8, 10, and the manner of proceedings at the floor of Parliament in passing of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill (No. 2) 2017, as well as the acts of security forces in entering Parliament, assaulting, arresting and detaining members of Parliament. Currently before court.
The Applicant instituted this matter in the High Court for declarations that the arbitrary acts of accosting, slapping and the unlawful search, arrest and assault of the applicant by the Respondent (DPC) of Wandegeya and other police officers on orders given by the Respondent infringed on the applicant’s rights protected by Articles 24, 27, 40(2), and 44(a) of the Constitution. The parties agreed and a consent judgment was given to the effect that the respondent was to give an official apology and pay nominal damages to the applicant. CEPIL has since then used this case as an instrument of advocacy with state institutions such as the Police in the promotion of the freedom of expression.
On December 2nd, 2014, Ronald Ssembuusi, a radio journalist, petitioned the East African Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania challenging the continued use of sections 179 and 180 of the Penal Code of Uganda. The Applicant passed away on the 2ndJanuary, 2015. An amended reference was filed. Application No. 2 of 2015 (arising from Reference No. 16 of 2014-MLDI&19 others v Ronald Ssembuusi-deceased & AG of Uganda was heard on 30thJuly, 2016.The UN and African Union Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and a group of different national, regional and international organisations led by the Medial Legal Defence Initiative in London (Including Centre for Public Interest Law) being interested in the matter applied for leave of Court to file amicus briefs. These were admitted as friends of Court. The attorney General appealed the decision giving rise to several other applications;
The Petition challenges the sub judice rule that bars detailed public discussion of a case before courts of law. In a Constitutional court petition, CEPIL claims government institutions are using the sub judice rule to deny people public information beyond what is demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.That the sub judice rule as postulated by both the courts of judicature of Uganda, the parliament of Uganda and the public bodies to deny the petitioner and other members of the public access to information is inconsistent with the Constitution (with the right to access information and the freedom of expression)
The petition challenges the acts of the Members of Parliament of Uganda of introducing clause21 (1) (q) (a) of the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016 (Now Act), which seeks to exempt MPs allowances from income tax, as being in contravention of Article 92 and 79 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. That the act of the MPs of the Respondents of introducing clause21 (1) (q) (a)in the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016 when the said provision was not introduced on behalf and by the Government of Uganda but by the MPs for own benefit, is in contravention of Article 93 (a) (i) and (b), and 79 (1) of the Constitution. Exempting Members of parliament form paying taxes in against public interest. If they do not pay these taxes it is a great reduction to the revenue and leads to eventual poor delivery of services because of limited funds. Currently before court.
Petition challenging pro-longed pre-trial detentions, the lacuna in the law on the maximum time for pre-trial detention after committal: – freedom from deprivation of personal liberty. We seeking a declaration that the prolonged pre-trial detention is unconstitutional. Long pretrial detention denies the detainee the right to personal liberty and freedom. The law does not mention how long a detainee shall be remanded in prison pending a hearing. The law assumes the accused or the detained is guilty which is contrary to the constitution.