KAMPALA: The judiciary has refuted reports alleging that president Yoweri Museveni and the Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny Dollo, have reached an agreement to remove applications for bail in Uganda.
In a press release issued on Friday December 31, the judiciary says no position has been taken on the proposal to scrap bail for capital offenders, a matter that has since become contentious. The press release was prompted by reports circulating on social media alleging that a compromise on the matter has been reached.
“We would like to inform and reassure members of the public that no such a position has been reached at all” part of the press statement reads.
The statement however affirms that the judiciary, working on directives from the Chief Justice, has been in the process for developing bail guidelines for all courts in Uganda. The debate on bail intensified this year with president Museveni insisting that granting bail to capital offenders is provocative and may fuel acts of mob justice.
The reports that have been circulating in media, claim that the guidelines are meant to remove provisions for bail applications, which the judiciary says is not true and therefore should be disregarded by the public.
The judiciary also says the process of developing guidelines on bail commenced long before the current public debate on bail started and it is still ongoing with the next phase being consultation with various stakeholders in the judicial system.
Article 133 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda empowers the Chief Justice, as head of Judiciary, to issue directions and orders to the courts for the proper and efficient administration of justice.
In his address to the nation on security in June 2020, Museveni cited murder offences where the victims do not get justice since they are dead and can not ask for bail. He said it is not correct to grant bail to murderers.
“People are being killed and you are defending criminals. You are giving more time to the criminals than victims. The victim is dead and cannot ask for bail and you spend your time on criminals! This is not correct” he President pointed out: “Murder is not like assault. We need to prioritize murder cases. After all, it is irreversible once one dies he cannot return.”
According to the judiciary, the objective behind development of the guidelines on bail is to compliment the existing legal provisions on bail. It is also meant to promote consistency and uniformity by courts when considering bail applications, the judiciary says.
Furthermore, judiciary says the guidelines will ensure that bail decision making complies with the Constitution, promote balancing of the rights of bail applicants with public interest and that of the victims, address abuse of pre-trial detentions, enhance conformity with internationally agreed minimum standards on suspects in detention, facilitate effective supervision of those granted bail, among others.
“The removal of application for bail is clearly not one of the objectives of the upcoming guidelines” the statement reads.