Uganda

Judicial independence infringed when Uganda's Chief Justice has to 'plead' for funds - constitutional court

Uganda’s constitutional court has found that the independence of the country’s judiciary is in jeopardy because of the way the budget of this arm of government is handled. In one of its most significant decisions under the present constitution, the court said the system made the judiciary very much the junior branch in the three arms of government, and often reduced the Chief Justice ‘to pleading for funds from the executive’.

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In this landmark case the Uganda law society made an alarming claim: the country’s executive and legislature had failed to help the judicial arm of government take its rightful place under the constitution. In doing so, they undermined the independence of the judiciary.

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.

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