Bail window: Suspects who regained temporary freedom

Politician Dr Kizza Besigye. PHOTO/FILE 

What you need to know:

  • Human rights activists have warned that the scrapping of bail could be used against political opponents.

President Museveni has for more than two decades been campaigning for denial of bail to suspects involved in capital offences including murder, rape, defilement, economic sabotage, and riots.

Human rights activists have, however, consistently opposed the proposal for fear that State actors may use it to harass their political and economic opponents.

During the Walk to Work protests 10 years ago, President Museveni met Members of Parliament (MPs) and asked them to reconsider having tough laws against bail that would keep suspects on remand for a long period of time. 

In 2005,  politician Dr Kizza Besigye was granted bail after his lawyers convinced the court that he had a right to it.
Dr Besigye had been charged with treason and rape.

Bail conditions
The then Principal Judge James Ogoola granted him bail on conditions the court considered reasonable.

Dr Besigye handed over his passport to court, he and his five sureties each entered an undertaking of Shs10m non cash bail to guarantee that he returns to court to answer charges against him, and Dr Besigye was to report to the court registrar twice a month until the case was disposed of.   

On September 2006, the Constitutional Court in its judgment in the Uganda Vs Col Kizza Besigye case reinforced that the politician should not be deprived of his freedom and bail should not be refused merely as a punishment as this would conflict with the presumption of innocent until proven guilty. 

“The refusal to grant bail should not be based on mere allegations. The grounds must be substantiated. Both High Court and the subordinate Courts have discretionary powers to set bail conditions which they deem reasonable, though this must be done with caution,” the judgment read in part.

Court later acquitted Dr Besigye of the offences some of which were found to have been conjured up by police officers to frame him.

Cases pending
September 8: Allan Ssewanyana (MP Makindye West) and Muhammad Ssegirinya (MP Kawempe North) are charged with murder in regard to the recent spate of killings by machete-wielding thugs in the Greater Masaka Sub-region. They have also been charged with aiding and abetting terrorism. 

The duo was released on bail pending hearing of their case but were rearrested by armed men and have since been detained without a formal charge at the Special Investigations Division, Kireka.

June 2019: The leader of the Tabliq Muslims Sheikh Yahaya Ramathan Mwanje, was released on bail in June 2019 after spending close to three years on remand without trial. He is accused of murdering Maj Mohammad Kiggundu and his bodyguard, Pte Stephen Mukasa, on November 26, 2016 at Masanafu Trading Centre in Lubaga Division.

Mwanje is also accused of aiding and abetting terrorism.

March 2019: The High Court in Kampala, released on bail eight men accused of killing former assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi.

Judge Lydia Mugambe released each of the accused on a non-cash bail of Shs150m with each of their sureties bonded at Shs250m, non cash.

The accused were released for having been on remand for more than two years without trial.

They include Abdul-Rashid Mbaziira; Aramanzani Noordin Higenyi, alias Taata Abdullazack; Yusuf Mugerwa, alias Wilson; Bruhan Balyejusa, alias Jimmy Masiga Ogutu; Joshua Magezi Kyambadde, alias Abdu Rahman; Jibril Kalyango, alias Abu Aisha; Yusuf Siraje Nyanzi, alias Jimmy Ssentamu; and Shafik Kasujja. 

The eight were part of the larger group of 23 accused persons accused of having a hand in the killing.

August 13, 2018: Bobi Wine and 35 others were charged with treason after a vehicle in the President’s convoy was allegedly stoned in Arua Municipality by-election. They were given bail pending trial of the case. 

March 2017: Joseph Kanyamunyu, the older brother of businessman Matthew Kanyamunyu was released on bail. The two are accused of killing child rights activist Kenneth Akena Watmon.

Besides murder, Joseph is battling charges of accessory to murder. It is not known when his trial will take place since he told court that he was sick. 

Matthew, was convicted under plea bargaining programme that saw his murder case reduced to man slaughter before being sentenced to five years.

January 2017: Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere was released on bail.

Since 2016, the monarch has been facing several capital charges including terrorism, murder and attempted murder, following his arrest in November 2016. 

Also released on bail are his 132 royal guards out of the more than 200 and his prime minister Tembo Kitsumbire, have also been released on bail.

February 20 - May 11, 2016: Dr Besigye was charged with treason after he allegedly announced himself the President of Uganda soon after the presidential elections of February 2016. 

The case is still pending at Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court. The State prosecutors said police detectives haven’t completed their investigations. 

May 2, 2016: Michael Kabaziguruka and five others were accused of working for a rebel group, Revolutionary Forces of Liberation of Uganda. They were charged with treason and misprision of treason in Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court. The case later ended up in the General Court Martial where he was charged with treachery. 

He was released on bail by the High Court.   

Public reacts to proposal to scrap bail for capital offenders

Shamim Nakazi, teacher.
We usually arrest suspects before getting evidence and the person is given bail as investigations are going on. Let us allow the law take its course by carrying out investigations.

Phiona Mutetera, student. 
To an extent the President is right because the injured parties deserve justice because whenever the culprits are given bail the case ends there and the victims never get justice.

Wickin Nagasha, administrator.
What the President is saying is correct because we have had repeat offenders getting bail and returning to society. Keeping them in prison helps them to reform. 

Moses Manirakiza, water engineer.
If there is clear evidence against the suspect, I have no problem. If a child murdered the parents, such a child shouldn’t be left around.

Kirenzi Haruna, economist.
That is a violation of Human Rights because these are mere suspects and worse still the directorate of public prosecutions and CID are still very weak in investigating cases.

Patricia Cheprop, student. 
He is talking from a Human Rights perspective. You cannot see the offender moving around after raping, murdering your relative and you remain happy. They should be kept away.

John A. Sseruwu, teacher.
I do not support the idea because it is presumed that one is innocent until a competent court proves him otherwise. We have many innocent people who are in jail for wrong reasons.

Asad Kirabira, teacher. 
I do not know the basis upon which the President came up with the idea. We have laws and we should adhere to rule of law. Let us stop operating outside the law. 

Ahmed Mwanje, accountant.
We have many people serving jail sentences in prison for wrong reasons. With this we shall have more people in jail without trial. 

Alex Bashasha, Lawyer. 
Bail is not a Constitutional right because it is discretionary to the sitting judge. In fact we should fight to make it a Constitutional right so that there are no conditions for getting it. 

*Compiled by Stephen Otage