What you need to know:
- A Cabinet memo that Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka tabled before Cabinet last Friday indicates a pursuit of amendments to the Constitution and the Police Act to tighten the hands of judicial officers and police in exercising the discretion to grant or deny bail and bond respectively.
Proposed bail legal reforms intended to make it hard for judges to release suspects facing capital offences and the recent spate of killings in Greater Masaka region have dominated the Uganda Law Society’s third-quarter rule of law report.
The report released last Friday warns that doing away with bail is tantamount to erasing the presumption of innocence, a cardinal principle of criminal law.
The report adds that the rights of the individual to personal liberty and freedom must be balanced at all times against the compelling interests of the state to enforce law and order for the citizens to have confidence in the criminal justice system.
A Cabinet memo that Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka tabled before Cabinet last Friday indicates a pursuit of amendments to the Constitution and the Police Act to tighten the hands of judicial officers and police in exercising the discretion to grant or deny bail and bond respectively.
Mr Kiryowa, among others, proposes that Article 23(6) (b) of the Constitution be amended to provide that a person accused of committing an offence triable by both the High Court and subordinate courts, shall not be granted bail until after 180 days or trial commencement, or when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) discontinues proceedings, whichever is earlier.
He also seeks changes to Article 23(4) (b) and Section 25 of the Police Act, both of which require a suspect to be released on police bond if not charged in court within 48 hours. The changes set out to qualify the period as 48 business hours.
The chief government legal adviser also wants “substantial surety” to be expressly defined in law, a national register for bail offenders to be created, and a bail compliance enforcement entity to be introduced either under police or private enforcers.
The Uganda Law Society report calls into question such pursuits.
Operating in the context of killings in the Greater Masaka region, the report urges the government to do more to avert insecurity.
“The authorities should expeditiously investigate the climate of criminality and a conclusive report presented by government for action to reduce the increasing number of cases of robbery and machete gangs,” the report states.
Machete-wielding gangs killed at least 26 residents in a span of one month in the Greater Masaka region.
A number of suspects, including MPs Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya, have since been charged before Masaka Court over the killings.
A woman receives a Covid-19 jab. Government has warned against taking mixed vaccines. PHOTO/FILE
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