Compiled by Mary Asujo
Court of Appeal’s Justice Kenneth Kakuru has died at the age of 65.
Kakuru was admitted to Aga Khan Hospital in Kenya’s capital Nairobi where he has been in critical condition and it is reported that he was suffering from prostate cancer which was in advanced stages.
Today March 3, he was pronounced dead.
Kakuru has been known as a no nonsense judge owing to his judgments and other court decisions. For example, in 2018, he gave a dissenting judgment nullifying removal of age limits out of the Constitution.
Justice Kakuru who begun by reciting the country’s history right from the ‘reign of terror’ of Idi Amin to the current NRM government quoted President Museveni’s 1986 speech where he promised democratic governance, change in quality of politics, and people power.
In his judgment, Kakuru explained that the MPs consulted very few people, a size which was not representative of the actual number of voters as registered by the Electoral Commission during the previous 2016 elections.
“There was no enough evidence that people of Uganda participated in these amendments. The evidence is too insignificant to constitute a meaningful participation of the people,” he ruled.
“Having said all that, I declare that the entire amendment was unconstitutional and should be declared null and void,” Justice Kakuru ruled before awarding costs to petitioners.
He also ruled that extending the tenure for Parliament from five to seven years was illegal because it contravened the provisions of the Constitution.
“If we go by what happened, it would mean that parliament would every five years extend its terms without holding an election and this is what Idi Amin did by declaring himself life president and parliament,”Kakuru ruled.
“They can even abolish the judiciary.”
Kakuru was also among the justices who nullified section 8 of the Public Order Management Act which was previously used by police to stop political gatherings. This section was used specifically to target opposition gatherings.
The deceased judge has made several other rulings that have rattled the status quo.
In 2021, Kakuru applied for early retirement citing his deteriorating health condition.
By that time, the judge was 63 years old and was seven years shy of the retirement age for Court of Appeal judges.
What you should know about him:
He was a Ugandan lawyer and judge, who served as a justice of the Court of Appeal of Uganda, since May 2013. Uganda’s Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo described him as a valued member of the bench who will be missed.
“Justice Kakuru has been a valued member of the Bench since his appointment on July 4, 2013 and will be greatly missed. He was, through his actions and judgements, a human rights defender par excellence” Dollo said.
Background and education
He was born in Uganda and attended local schools for his primary and secondary school education. He studied law at Makerere University, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. Later, he graduated with a Master of Laws (LLM) degree, also from Makerere University. His Diploma in Legal Practice was obtained from the Law Development Centre, in Kampala, Uganda. He also holds a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Educational Policy Planning and Development, awarded by Kyambogo University.
Kakuru was the founder and Senior Partner of the law firm of Kakuru & Company Advocates, a Kampala-based law firm, established in 1987.He established a reputation as an environmental rights attorney and an expert in public interest litigation. He founded and at the time of his death still served as a non-executive director of Greenwatch Uganda, an environmental advocacy non-profit organization.
In May 2013, Kakuru was appointed directly to the Uganda Court of Appeal. Among his professional affiliations, he is a member of the Uganda Law Society, the East African Law Society, the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide and the International Bar Association.