Kampala. A war of words has erupted between the president of Uganda Law Society (ULS), Mr Simon Kinobe, and a human rights lawyer, Mr Eron Kiiza, over the latter’s alleged offensive social media posts against Mubende High Court judge Joseph Murangira.
On July 17, Mr Kinobe wrote a warning to Mr Kiiza stating that he was aware of his repeated smear campaign on social media against Justice Murangira in which he indirectly referred to him as ‘mafia’ and a ‘member of troublesome trio’.
The ULS president ordered Mr Kiiza to pull down the alleged offensive social media posts against the judge.
Mr Kiiza represents 3,000 people from five villages in Mubende District who are facing eviction by Mr George Kaweesi, who secured an order from Mubende High Court presided over by Justice Murangira. Mr Kiiza claimed Justice Murangira unfairly sided with Mr Kaweesi to evict the residents. He has since petitioned Chief Justice Bart Katureebe for intervention.
“It is important as advocates to jealously protect the independence of the Judiciary as set out by Article 128 of the Constitution. Haranguing a judicial officer on social media as a result of a disagreement or belief of misfeasance erodes this independence. Imagine every advocate going to social media to influence the outcome of their case, there would be no justice,” Mr Kinobe said.
He added: “The Uganda Law Society has avenues and has previously used these avenues to prevail and deal with errant judges. These avenues should have been utilised by you as a member… we should always uphold the principles of equity no matter how difficult a matter presents itself. The purpose of this letter is, therefore, to request you to pull down the said offensive posts.”
However, Mr Kiiza in his response on July 18, denied committing any wrong by using his social media accounts to highlight the plight of his clients.
“Your letter is like the sword of Damocles hanging precariously over the neck of my freedom. I had hoped the weight of your office and spirit of your letter would give voice, even in one word, to the plight and puzzle of thousands of evictees whose unfortunate pain and violation have left me no choice but ventilate it through my Facebook account besides other fora,” Mr Kiiza said.
He added: “Are you also irked by people who praise judges on social media or it is only those who criticise them that rub you the wrong way? Love poems should be juxtaposed with freedom songs in our digital interactions with the Bench,” he added.
By press time, the duo was due to meet and discuss how to resolve the matter.