Deepening property 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 grabbing and this has led to increase in land disputes.

As a response strategy, we are using the knowledge of the law to run a project that aims at corporatizing the clan to enable them protect their land. We hold meetings with community leaders to teach them on how to set up trusts in which the land is to be registered. After registration a certificate of tittle is issued and given to the community leaders.

Enhancing Judicial Independence in Uganda by promoting an accountable and effective institution of the judiciary.

The Judiciary is the third arm of Government, under the doctrine of separation of powers. The Lord Chief Justice deputized by a Lord Deputy Chief Justice heads the Judiciary. The superior courts of Uganda are the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and the High Court. The Constitution Court sits whenever necessary.

Judicial independence is the concept that the judiciary should be independentfrom the other branches of government. That is, courts should not be subject to improper influence from the other branches of government or from private or partisan interests.

Under this project, CEPIL Under takes a Judicial Scorecard Initiative across various courts in the country. The Judiciary’s mandate is found in Article 126 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda:

“Judicial Power is derived from the people and it shall be exercised by the Courts established under this Constitution in the name of the people and in conformity with the law and with values, norms and aspirations of the people.”

We strongly feel that the Judicial Scorecard is one of the mechanisms of ensuring that the Judiciary is accountable for its performance to the people of Uganda on the exercise of its constitutional mandate.

This scorecard together with the performance enhancement tool under consideration by the Judiciary seeks to provide some action points to help the Judiciary to achieve its stated mission: “To be an independent, competent, trusted and accountable Judiciary that administers justice to all.”

Enhancing Democratic space for the media industry in Uganda

Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the principle that communication and expression through various media, including printed and electronic media, especially published materials, should be considered a right to be exercised freely.

This project is aimed at achieving a free press, 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.

The increasing number of young people in Uganda has come up with challenges that need a multi-pronged approach by all the stakeholders.

On one hand there exists a huge potential of investing in young lawyers to help the country unlock several opportunities. On the other hand, recent developments demonstrate that if the challenges the young population faces such as unemployment and insufficient provision of adequate social amenities are not attended to and addressed, we will see rising levels of dependency among the youth with a result that the country is likely to witness rising conflicts across the local economic and political spectrum.

It is against this back ground that the Uganda Law Society and the Centre for Public Interest Law are designing a leadership development framework for the young lawyers with the aim of equipping them and empowering them with leadership skills tailored towards creating a society that respects the Rule of Law. It is expected that the leaders will be able provide leadership that will guide the youth towards reasoning the complex challenges affecting Uganda’s culture on Rule of Law framework to avoid a situation where Uganda makes a complete reverse to the pre-1995 Constitution captured in the Preamble.

The culture of the rule of law needs a long-term approach and one of the best ways to do this is if we are to learn from the History of Uganda as captured in the preamble to the Constitution by deliberately investing in the young people

CEPIL launched the Rule of Law Champions Initiative that seeks to empower and mentor young people to be the champions of the Rule of Law

Under this programme CEPIL seeks to influence, promote and ensure that the laws passed or the bills that will be passed into law by Parliament represent the Interest of the public.

CEPIL carries out research on specific legislation and submits position papers and opinion papers to Parliament of Uganda. By doing this, we hope to influence the bills being passed into law and also share best practices implemented around the world today.

Where the laws already in existence are inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, CEPIL petitions the Constitutional Court for Interpretation.

A case in Point is the case of CEPIL, Human Rights Network for Journalists & East African Media Institute v Attorney General (currently before the Constitutional Court). This case challengesthe constitutionality of the press and Journalistic Act for limiting media freedoms.

Have a look at our case tracker for more of our cases challenging unconstitutional laws in Uganda

CEPIL also wrote and presented a position paper on the Administration of the Judiciary Bill 2018. In partnership with the Coalition in Support of the Independence on the Judiciary appeared before the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affiars.