Uganda

Uganda’s courts ‘too westernized to handle cultural, customary issues’ – high court judge

Prominent Ugandan high court judge Ssekaana Musa has told litigants in dispute over traditional leadership that they should ‘always’ refer such quarrels ‘to the King or traditional or cultural leaders’. Judge Musa was considering two disputes about traditional leadership positions. He said that courts should discourage ‘petty issues’ like who was the rightful heir, family head or chief prince, from being ‘dragged to court’. These matters would be better dealt with by the established mechanism of a particular community, he said.

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Judge Ssekaana Musa heard two related applications involving the Kabaka (King) of Buganda and dismissed them both earlier this month.

Justice for these elderly folk – 21 years later

Well over 20 years ago the Kampala municipal authorities retrenched a group of long-serving workers. But they were not paid their full termination benefits. For more than two decades the group has been fighting to get the money to which they are entitled. They were ultimately awarded a certain sum plus damages by the high court in 2015 but they appealed, saying it was far too little. Now Uganda's Court of Appeal has given its decision on the matter. Would the judges find the pensioners ought to have been better compensated after 21 years of poverty? 

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Sometimes the courts have a chance to make a really significant difference in the lives of ordinary people. For three judges of Uganda’s Court of Appeal one of those moments came in a recent case concerning 22 elderly people.

Controversial land inquiry warned over infringing judicial independence

Tension between Uganda’s judiciary and a commission of inquiry headed by one of the judiciary’s own members has heightened following a new Court of Appeal decision. The appeal judgment refused to stay a huge, court-ordered payout to a local pastor and land broker, as ordered by the inquiry, and warned that the independence of the judiciary was at stake if court decisions and orders could be countermanded by a commission of inquiry.

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 The commission of inquiry into land policies and administration in Uganda, headed by Judge Catherine Bamugemereire, has been at the centre of a number of high-profile disputes ever since it was set up.

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