Opposition Forum for Democratic Change party (FDC) has slammed President Museveni’s push to scrap court bail for suspected capital offenders.
Mr John Kikonyogo, the FDC deputy spokesperson, yesterday described the President’s stand on bail as a calculated move.
“The right to apply for bail is inherent to all Ugandans. Bail is not absolute; it’s only granted at the discretion of the court. Bail may be denied or restricted. The duty to deny bail lies with the State which may present compelling reasons to move court to deny bail,” Mr Kikonyogo said.
In a televised address last week, President Museveni expressed his determination to scrap bail for suspected capital offenders and reinstate the mandatory death penalty.
Mr Museveni based his argument on the assertion that lenient sentences such as life imprisonment have encouraged crime while provisions such as bail leave victims clamouring for justice.
However, FDC holds that presumption of innocence is the backbone of Uganda’s criminal justice system.
“Uganda being a Commonwealth country falls under the common law system, which is based on presumption of innocence,” Mr Kikonyogo said, adding: “In Uganda the presumption of innocence is created under Article 28(3)a of the 1995 Constitution and it is entrenched under Article 44 (c) of the same Constitution which makes the whole Article 28 non-derogable.”
FDC joins other stakeholders in criticising President Museveni’s move.
Legal experts, human rights activists and even some members of the National Resistance Movement have recently taken exception to President Museveni’s strong views on bail. The FDC is particularly worried because this is not the first time President Museveni has pushed for the scrapping of bail for suspected capital offenders. In 2011, he set up a five-member team to examine the idea of denying bail to suspects of economic sabotage, murders, rioters and hostile media, among others.
“Mr Museveni has tried it many times before [including] 2011. We call upon Ugandans not to take this disunion literally. His intention is to engage Ugandans into constant discussion on merits and demerits of bail,” Mr Kikonyogo said.
FDC also took a swipe at the government for what it perceived to be a poor showing at the ongoing Dubai Trade Expo in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It held that Uganda’s pavilion at the expo was “poorly manned.”