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Constitutional Court Trims IGP’s Powers in Public Order Management Law

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

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The Constitutional Court has nullified Section 8 of the Public Order Management Act (POMA) 2013 which allowed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) or anybody he delegates discretionary powers to prevent public meetings

In the majority judgement of 4-1, Justice Kenneth Kakuru, Geoffrey Kiryabwire and Stephen Musota faulted Parliament and the Executive for acting against Section 92 of the constitution when it passed POMA with similar contents of section 32 (2) of Police Act which had been nullified by court.

“The action of the respondent in enacting and assenting to Section 8 of POMA which is materially similar to section 32(2) of the Police Act that was declared unconstitutional by constitutional court in petition 9 of 2005 of Muwanga Kivumbi vs Attorney General is unconstitutional and in contravention of Article 29 ,43 and 92 of constitution.”

The justices pointed out that the Police had been given excessive powers of dispersing public gathering on conditions that they had intelligence that they could turn violent yet they have to provide reinforced deployment in case they suspect any breach of peace.

The court further advised Police to always regulate public meetings and gatherings using the Penal Code Act which is already in place.

“This court cannot fail to take judicial notice of the fact that Police have indeed suppressed numerous public gatherings of Political and social in nature in the name of maintaining public order.”

In 2013, Butambala MP Hon Muwanga Kivumbi, retired Bishop Zac Niringiriye with organisations such as Human Rights Network Uganda, Development Network of indigenous Voluntary Associations (Deniva) , the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA Uganda) , Chapter Four Uganda petitioned constitutional court challenging Public Order Management Act.

The petitioners argued that the Act restricted Ugandans from exercising their right of engaging in public gatherings on top of granting the IGP absolute powers to disperse gatherings.

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