Museveni inches closer to scrapping bail for capital offenders 

President Museveni used his latest instalment of night addresses to voice enthusiasm for reforms in constituional provisions that presently allow bail for suspects before they are proven guilty by courts of law. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • ''Nobody will stop us,'' President Museveni vowed on his move that might see bail for suspected capital offenders scrapped. 
  • The concept fronted by the president has already sparked several notions, mostly amongst critics who say it targets political rivals including currently detained dissident legislators- Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya. 

President Museveni on Friday continued to inch closer to his sole push of scrapping bail for presumed capital offenders in a televised prime time national address. 

‘‘I will not accept the issue of bond by police in cases like this. I’m going to discuss with the Attorney General to see how we stop this nonsense. On the issue of bail, we are continuing to discuss this with stakeholders and nobody will stop us,’’ he said. 

Mr Museveni who has recently been consistent with his quest for the move essentially packaged by him as justice for the victims- said bail is provocative and interferes with security investigations. 

''How can we have a system like this? First of all it annoys people because for them they may not know the difference between bail and being released. The public gets annoyed,’’ he explained. 

Meantime, Mr Museveni’s motive is not fully supported by the public and has already been blocked by some parliamentarians. 

‘‘I saw the other day- MPs walked out of parliament because somebody has not got bail. These political people who do nothing about the victims but all attention on the victims- we shall know them by their fruits,’’ Museveni said.

The concept fronted by the president has also sparked several notions, mostly amongst critics who say it targets political rivals including dissident legislators (Allan Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya) who are currently detained over brutal murders that claimed 26 lives in one month in Masaka Sub region, Central Uganda.  

‘‘I want to assure Ugandans that we shall not be deflected by political schemes. We shall ensure accountability, even for these people that died during the November 18/19 riots. That report should be audited and concluded,’’ he demanded. 

Article 23 (6) of the 1995 Uganda Constitution states that: ‘‘Where a person is arrested in respect of a criminal offence—The person is entitled to apply to the court to be released on bail, and the court may grant that person bail on such conditions as the court considers reasonable.’’ 

But for Mr Museveni, ‘‘there’s nothing comparable to dying’’ and the ‘‘argument of court delays cannot apply to murder.’’

He is now urging courts to always prioritize capital offenses such as ‘‘murder which doesn’t account for many cases of the backlog.’’

Furthermore, government aims at funding the Judiciary to a tune of Shs800b to eliminate delays in dispensing justice. 
‘‘They have been having a budget of about Shs190b and we have now pushed it to almost Shs400b. When we get there (Shs800b funding), we shall have more networks of courts nationwide,’’ Mr Museveni, 77, echoed October 1.

For now, the prospect of scrapping bail for presumed capital offenders must overcome some many handicaps before enactment.