AS African jurisdictions embrace powerful, forward-looking constitutions and the possibility of litigation to protect rights, one question will inevitably arise: how should a court manage the question of legal costs in such litigation? An important new decision from the constitutional court of Uganda lays down clear guidelines. Carmel Rickard writes that the dispute over legal costs in this case followed a high-profile challenge to parliament’s decision that corruption allegations against leading members of government should be investigated.
UGANDAN advocate Twinobusigye Severino was in parliament the day a row broke out over claims of bribery in the oil sector. He heard hecklers calling government ministers “thieves” and “thugs”, and he listened to an MP saying – to great applause – that if he had Idi Amin’s powers he would publicly execute those accused of corruption. When those same angry hecklers then voted to set up an inquiry into the alleged corruption, Severino went to court with a constitutional petition.
A dissenting judgment discusses the law on corroboration’ in sexual assault cases in Uganda. The result is a landmark ruling for girls and women considering whether to lay charges against their attackers in cases of sexual assault. And it’s also crucial in the development of a jurisprudence that no longer discriminates against women. None of her colleagues objected to her separate judgment: clearly, they found it legally sound.