Emulate Benedicto Kiwanuka’s legacy

Former DP presidents Benedicto Kiwanuka (C) and Paul Ssemogerere (R) also worked with past governments. Inset is former Ugandan President Idi Amin Dada and incumbent President Museveni. PHOTOS/ FILE

What you need to know:

The issue: Benedicto Kiwanuka’s legacy

Our view: Let’s walk the talk about having an independent Judiciary, where a judge freely writes his decision without undue influence from the big shots in the government

September 21, marked exactly 50 years since Uganda’s Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka was last seen alive.

He was kidnapped on September 21, 1972, by Idi Amin soldiers from his chambers at the Judiciary headquarters and his body has never been seen to date.

Kiwanuka fell out with Amin after he promised to protect Ugandans against government abuse and it’s this commitment to justice that put him on collusion paths with Amin.

It is reported that the final act that cost him his life was his decision to hear a case of a British businessman Daniel Stewart, who had been arrested and detained without trial at a military barracks. This was after he issued an order of habeas corpus, directing military authorities to produce the businessman before him.

But as the country commemorates Kiwanuka’s brutal murder, what he stood for regarding the protection of human rights and abuses, continues, 50 years later.

For example, there is the continued disobedience of court orders by government agencies and security organs.

Yet courts are clothed with constitutional powers to dispense justice to all people and justice is delivered and communicated through court orders.

For certain groups to disregard court orders, then the Judiciary is rendered useless and we wouldn’t like to travel that path.

We have also seen situations where those in the opposition are politically persecuted. For instance Opposition MPs Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye East) and Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) several attempts to be released on bail have been frustrated by the state apparatus.

There is also alleged “real” and “perceived” corruption in our temples of justice, where justice is bought by the rich.

Describing the state of the rot in the country, Justice Minister Norbert Mao in his remarks at the memorial said: “The comedians even make jokes now; they call the Legislature, legis-looters, the call the Executive, the exec-thieves, and the and the Judiciary, Judi-sharing. We have to take seriously the jokes that are made based on some perceptions.”

The late Benedicto Kiwanuka was committed to strengthening the rule of law and believed in human rights observance and defense of human freedoms and liberties.

This year’s commemoration ran under the theme: “Benedicto Kiwanuka; Reflections on the Independence of Judiciary in Modern Times.”

Let’s walk the talk about having an independent Judiciary, where a judge freely writes his decision without undue influence from the big shots in the government.

The celebration of the life and achievements of Kiwanuka calls upon each one of us to reflect on what we have done, and what more we can do, in the quest for a stronger and independent Judiciary and the delivery of justice to the people in a fair, speedy and impartial manner as commanded by Article 28(1) of the Constitution, which facets, he yearned for.

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