President Museveni has rejected to assent to the Sexual Offences Bill, saying many provisions are redundant and already provided for in other legislations.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Among made the communication to the House yesterday.
In an August 3 letter addressed to Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, the President said the legislation needs to be reviewed to address the redundancies.
President Museveni also returned the controversial succession amendment Bill.
“The President has done so [returned] in respect with the Sexual Offences Bill and the Succession Amendment Bill,” Ms Among said.
Ms Among referred the two Bills to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for reconsideration before a final decision is taken.
Article 19 of the Constitution grants the President powers to return a Bill if he has queries about it or particulars in it as passed by the Parliament.
“I have received the Sexual Offences Bill 2021 for assent. However, the Bill needs to be reviewed because there are several provisions of Act that are already provided for in the legislations i.e. Section 2, 3, 5,6,7,9,10,12,13, 14,15,16,17,18,19,20 and 22. All the above offences are already provided for in the Penal Code Act Chapter 8 on the offences against morality,” the letter reads in part.
The President further castigated the Legal and Parliamentary Committee for rejecting the submissions made by Uganda Law Reform Commission, saying the commission’s report needs to be considered instead of amending the laws in piecemeal.
“I have been informed that Uganda Law Reform Commission had earlier carried out a comprehensive review on all criminal related laws i.e the Penal Code Act, Magistrates Court Act, the Trial and Indictment Act |and] Evidence Act. Their proposed amendments were presented by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to the Legal and Parliamentary Committee of Parliament but were never considered. Instead of carrying out piecemeal amendments, the commission should be given, an opportunity to review all the criminal laws and propose comprehensive amendment of relevant laws for consideration of Parliament.”
The Sexual Offences Bill was tabled by former Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding with the aim of coming up with a specific law on sexual offences that criminalises unwelcome touch, patting, pinching or any other unsolicited physical contact and sexual comments.
Others are jokes, obscene expressions or offensive flirtations with an employee, student, patient or other person under his or her authority, knowing or having reason to believe that such conduct is not welcome or offensive.
The Bill also seeks to enhance punishment of sexual offenders; to provide for the protection of victims during sexual offences trials; to provide for extra territorial application of the law and to repeal some provisions of the Penal Code Act.
However, the President declined to append his signature on the Bill, citing especially clauses on rape, aggravated rape, administering substance with the intent of committing a sexual act, sexual assault, Indecent communication, sexual harassment.
Mr Museveni raised concerns with the succession Bill that seeks to ease sharing property where a spouse has died.
Under clause 14(c) but there is no lineal descendant with the Bill providing for sharing property where a spouse would get 80 per cent and dependent relatives 20per cent, with the President arguing that the new provision is a completely different matter from other matters in the current law.