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.

Consider tax payer loss when deciding on bail in white-collar crime appeals – Uganda Supreme Court

Employees of a country’s tax collector represent a potential weak point for any revenue authority. South African police announced at the end of February that two staffers of the SA Revenue Service had been arrested after they allegedly demanded R150 000 from a tax payer. The money was to cancel an outstanding tax bill. It’s a problem repeated almost every year, with SA officials arrested over similar allegations, often having taken bribes to make a taxpayer’s problems ‘go away’.

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The two arrested Uganda Revenue Authority officials, Dominic Mugerwa and Abias Muhwezi, were working in the domestic taxes department of the URA, one as a supervisor and the other as revenue officer. They were charged with falsely and fraudulently auditing, verifying and approving a claim for the VAT refund of a tax payer. In all, the actions led to a loss to the fiscus of UGX 6.5 billion.

Ugandan court puts widow's rights ahead of cultural practices

In a judgment that strikes a blow for women’s equality in the face of strong cultural practices, the Ugandan high court has ordered that a widow may decide where her deceased husband may be buried. This despite the wishes of the man’s family, who wanted him laid in an ancestral burial ground and who wanted the woman to be barred from in any way ‘interfering’ with the burial. Before making its decision, the court asked for expert witnesses to provide evidence about the burial traditions of the Ndiga clan.

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At the centre of this court dispute is a family divided over where Christopher Kyobe, who died of Covid in Switzerland during October, should be buried.

His wife of 28 years – they married in Uganda in 1993 – brought his body back from Switzerland where they had lived, because she said he had told her that he wished to be buried at his matrimonial home in Mukono.

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