Legal experts meet to draft anti-bail law - Daily Monitor

Legal experts meet to draft anti-bail law

Monday August 15 2011

MADE CALL: Mr Nyombi, COMMITTEE CHAIR: Mbabazi

MADE CALL: Mr Nyombi, COMMITTEE CHAIR: Mbabazi 

By Richard Wanambwa

Government will today hold a meeting with a team of legal experts to fast track the drafting of the proposed anti-bail law.
The law aims at denying suspected rapists, rioters and economic saboteurs bail until they have served at least six months in prison.

Attorney General Peter Nyombi, said today’s meeting will commence the drafting of the proposed law, before it is submitted to the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs for scrutiny ahead of a full House debate.

PM chairs team
This paper earlier learnt that the government, through Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, lined up a team of legal experts from both government and private practice, to fast track the draft proposal. Details of the legal team could not be verified by press time but their meeting this morning is planned to take place at Mr Mbabazi’s private office on Aki-Bua Road, Nakesero.

“We are definitely working on the draft proposal which will then be considered by Parliament. That is all I can say,” Mr Nyombi told Daily Monitor yesterday by phone. The committee is chaired by Mr Mbabazi and some of his members include Ministers; Adolf Mwesige, Prof. Khiddu Makubuya and Mr Nyombi.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Nandala Mafabi, yesterday said the issue of bail is sensitive and that whoever is trying to manipulate the process is infringing on the issue of human rights. “Bail is a fundamental right and there are many laws that will need to be amended and whoever is doing that is a making a mistake,” Mr Mafabi said.

City advocate and former Chairperson of the Constitutional Review Commission, Prof. Fredrick Ssepembwa, said as lawyers, they have opposed tampering with Constitution for political survival of a regime. “I don’t know what they are going to do with that illegal matter but it’s a political matter and it should be fought politically like suing them. They are trying to prevent demonstrations and as lawyers, we are opposed to such a scheme,” Prof. Ssepembwa said.

Government’s bid to rush the Bail Bill is, however, being seen by the opposition as a move to curtail the second phase of the walk-to-work campaign that is aimed at mobilising the public to trek to their work stations as a way of showing displeasure about the skyrocketing cost of living.

ULS position
Uganda Law Society president James Mukasa Ssebugenyi said the lawyers’ body has been ignored in the whole project for reasons best known by the government. “Fast tracking is not the solution, the solution is effective consultation and proper thought process of the proposal. But because the law is targeting a particular section of the citizenry or public with a view to curtail constitutional rights, it will not pass the test of time even if fast tracked,” Mr Mukasa said.

He added: “I will assemble the best team of legal minds from the region to go to the Constitutional Court to challenge that Bill. They are doing it behind our backs but we are here not to fight them but work with them.” State Minister for Justice Fredrick Ruhindi said his ministry was not participating in today’s meeting. Mr Ruhindi and his boss, Gen. Otafiire, are significant to the proposal because they are expected to defend the Bill together with the Attorney General.

Referendum
Mr Museveni last month told MPs subscribing to the NRM during a meeting with his party caucus in Parliament, that a referendum be held to determine whether to scrap bail and detain suspects without for six months.

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