‘Concerned citizen’ sues govt printer over failure to publish human rights law

The Uganda Gazette is the official government publication in which all official government communication is published. It can be accessed in public libraries and from the Uganda Printing and Publishing Company Limited

The Uganda National Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) has been dragged to the High Court in Kampala for allegedly failing to publish and Gazette the Human Rights Enforcement Act (2019).

In his law suit filed on Monday, James Mubiru, a concerned citizen, contends that in 2019 the Parliament of Uganda passed the Human Rights (Enforcement) Bill, and the same was authenticated by the clerk to Parliament on March 22, 2019.

He adds that President Yoweri Museveni assented to the Bill on March 31, however it has not commenced to date.

“I know and verily believe that the said Act is fundamentally important to the applicant (Mubiru) and all Ugandans in as much as it seeks to give effect to Article 50(4) of the 1995 Uganda Constitution and thus promote the enforcement of Human Rights under Chapter Four of the said Constitution,” the petitioner contends.

“I am aware that printing and publishing the said Act is a pre-requisite for it to become a law that is applicable and enforceable in Uganda,” he adds.

Mr Mubiru explains that the respondent (UPPC) and its officials, servants shall not be prejudiced in any way if they are directed to immediately print and publish the Human Rights Enforcement Act, 2019 thus in the interests of justice fairness that UPPC should also be directed to pay him the costs of this cause.

Through his lawyer Anthony Wameli, Mubiru adds that as of now, UPPC's refusal or neglect to publish the said Act means that it cannot be applied in the country yet there is urgent need for it.

He is also seeking for an order of mandamus directing UPPC officials or servants to immediately print and publish the Act.

More than seven months since President Museveni assented to the much-lauded Human Rights Enforcement Act 2019, the law is yet to be gazetted despite reminders and appeals to government officials charged with the responsibility.

The gazette is the official government publication in which all official communication, including appointments, notices, declarations, transactions, contracts and legislations are published.

The failure or refusal to gazette the instrument renders the acclaimed law unenforceable and implies that those who may wish to petition courts based on its provisions cannot proceed.

The application was allocated to Justice Lydia Mugambe who will be fixing it for hearing.

Meanwhile the petition came in shortly after the publication’s boss Irene Muwanguzi petitioned court seeking for a temporary injunction restraining UPPC from appointing anyone to take up her position when she is still holding the same.

Muwanguzi contends her contract as UPPC’s Managing Director has never been lawfully terminated yet she has been prevented from accessing her office since May 2019.