Constitutional Court

Free speech gets a huge boost in Uganda

A key freedom of expression law, used in Uganda to arrest, detain and hamper the work of journalists, along with other writers and political activists, has been declared unconstitutional by that country’s constitutional court. Five judges held that the law, dealing with ‘computer misuse’, imposed curbs that were incompatible with the constitution. The court said that prosecuting people for the content of their communication amounted to a violation of what ‘falls within guarantees of freedom of expression in a democratic society’.

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In a decision likely to have an enormous impact on freedom of expression in Uganda as well as on constitutionalism in that country more generally, five judges have held a key section of a pervasive law on ‘computer misuse’ to be invalid.

Uganda’s constitutional court finds 16 high court two-year, acting appointments unconstitutional

When Uganda’s judicial service commission (JSC) announced earlier this year, that 16 high court judges had been appointed – for a two-year acting stint – it prompted two legal academics to bring a petition challenging the constitutionality of these appointments. Now the country’s constitutional court has given its decision: by four to one, the court ruled that the appointments were unconstitutional, and gave the JSC six months to rectify the situation.

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Two lecturers at Makerere University law school have won what they will surely regard as a significant victory for constitutionalism in the appointment of judges. Busingye Kabumba and Andrew Karamagi brought their application in reaction to an announcement by the judicial service commission (JSC), issued in May, to the effect that 16 high court judges had been appointed in an acting capacity for a two-year term.

Death penalty for convicted HIV rapists unconstitutional – Lesotho court

A decision by the constitutional division of Lesotho’s high court has found controversial provisions in that country’s sexual offences law, unconstitutional. In particular, the court held that stipulating the death penalty for a convicted rapist, held to have known he was HIV positive at the time of the crime, infringed the constitutional right to freedom from discrimination and to a right to equality before the law.

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Just over 20 years ago, Lesotho’s then Minister of Justice, Law and Constitutional Affairs, Refiloe Masemene, introduced a new bill on sexual offences to parliament. Among other proposals, accepted by MPs and brought into law, was this: that the penalty for a convicted rapist, aware at the time of the crime that he was HIV Positive, was the death sentence.

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