Journalist Peter Greste Deported from Egypt

Government has denied any inaction in regard to the delayed appointment of a substantive Chief Justice (CJ) and Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ).

The Attorney General, stuff Peter Nyombi, said on January 30 that President Museveni had duly extended the tenure of the former CJ, Benjamin Odoki, on a two year contract, but the move was challenged in courts, and the process is still ongoing.

“I verily believe that there has been no inaction on the part of Government to appoint a substantive Chief Justice as on June 26, 2013, the Judicial Service Commission wrote to the President proposing names of the Hon. Justices of the Supreme Court among them Hon. Justice Benjamin Odoki,” stated Mr. Nyombi in a sworn affidavit.

“I know that on July 9, 2013, H.E. the President wrote to the Chairperson of Judicial Service Commission communicating his acceptance that Honorable Justice Benjamin J. Odoki be appointed as Chief Justice of Uganda for a term of 2 years but the appointment was challenged in Constitutional Petition No. 39 of 2013…which has since been appealed against and is now awaiting the Supreme Court of Uganda’s directions on a date for scheduling of the case.”

Mr Nyombi ‘s affidavit was filed at the High Court Civil Division in Kampala in response to a judicial review, among other things, seeking orders for quicker appointment of substantive CJ and DCJ on ground that Hon. Justice Kavuma is wrongfully acting the two offices.

Legal Brains Trust (LBT), a local civil society organization that filed the application no. 179 of 2014 contends that the delayed appointments “severely crippled and embarrassed the Judiciary”.

Lawyers have since protested working under a “headless” judiciary.

The attorney general however, defends Hon. Justice Kavuma‘s role. “Honorable Justice Steven B. Kavuma was on 13th March 2013 requested by the then Chief Justice to take care of the office of the Deputy Chief Justice as the then Ag. Deputy Chief Justice, Hon. Lady Justice C.K. Byamugisha, was unwell and unable to perform the duties of that office and he continued performing those functions of that office until Her Lordship unfortunately passed on,” wrote Nyombi.


He says that the 1995 Uganda Constitution fully mandates the Deputy Chief Justice to perform the duties and functions of the chief justice when the office falls vacant until an appointment for a new one is made.

“I know that a reference of the holder of an office by the term designating his or her office shall be construed meaning the person for the time being lawfully holding, acting in or performing the functions of that office.”

He says there is no evidence that organs and agencies of Government have been crippled and embarrassed by the delayed appointment of the CJ and DCJ.

Museveni appointment

However, Uganda Law Society (ULS) President, Ruth Sebatindira, said the ULS met with the appointing authority in April 2014 who assured them that once the Constitutional Court petition was concluded he would make the appointment of a Chief Justice.

He also assured them that the appointment of the Deputy Chief Justice would be handled before that as there was no impediment.

“It is nine months since we received those assurances. It is four months since the Constitutional petition was resolved. Even assuming that an appeal against this decision was lodged, it should only affect the Chief Justice position. The appointment of a Deputy Chief Justice, who could then lawfully and constitutionally act as Chief Justice has not been done.  We cannot continue to rely on hope alone,” said Sebatindira in January.

“The issue we face is not merely one of getting occupants in those positions.  It is fundamentally an issue of constitutional order. It is ultimately about justice for our people. It also affects us directly because we work in the Courts. The Judiciary continues to be treated as an irrelevant institution. It is being run under scandalous and unconstitutional circumstances yet it is the vanguard of the Constitution and our laws. We can no longer walk with our heads high to assure the Citizenry that all is well in the Judiciary because, all is not well.”


Hon. Justice Kavuma says was properly named as caretaker DCJ on March 13, 2013 by the then CJ Odoki, pending the appointment of a substantive DCJ.

“I did not appoint myself to act as the Acting Deputy Chief Justice and I was lawfully asked by the substantive Chief Justice to perform the said duties and I dully obliged,” he wrote in his January 29 affidavit.

He says he has not been drawing allowances and other emoluments or enjoyed privileges and immunities of the Chief Justice as alleged by LBT.

The AG further argues that the application cannot stand for it was filed out of time. The High Court Civil Division sitting in Kampala is due to hear the case and make a ruling.
The Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has issued an order for the release and deportation of journalist Peter Greste after spending over a year in detention.

The international media reported Sunday that Greste was put on Cyprus-bound plane today afternoon.

It is understood that el-Sissi relied on a law passed last year vesting powers in him to deport foreign suspects and criminals.

Late last year, this World leaders at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) highlighted the importance of press freedom and called on Egypt to release the three jailed Al Jazeera staff.

The wrongful imprisonment of Baher Mohamed, check Peter Greste and Mohammed Fahmy was raised by US President Obama in his first meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

According to the Deputy National Security advisor, Ben Rhodes, Obama reminded the Egyptian leader of his duty to human rights, including the rights to free speech and the rights of the three jailed Al Jazeera journalists.

Rhodes said: “The president expressed his view that those journalists should be released.”

President Obama’s emphasis on releasing the men followed a similar meeting between Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, and Sisi for twenty minutes. After the meeting, Abbott said: “I think he (Sisi) will do his best to be helpful.”

At UNGA, similar calls for Egypt to release the three journalists were made by the British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, who told Al Jazeera: “On the question of Al Jazeera journalists, I’ve raised this question personally with President Sisi. I raise it every time I see Foreign Minister Shoukry. The current situation is that the journalists have, as I understand it, appealed their convictions and that means this remains at the present time a judicial process. And we have to respect the separation of judicial and executive power. Once that judicial process is complete, if that sentence still stands, we would look to the executive to intervene and ensure they are released.”

Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told Al Jazeera that he’d travelled with Peter Greste and been interviewed by him. “He was a very nice guy… He was not politicized; he is a professional journo…  I know he doesn’t deserve to be in prison.”

He added, “For us in Somalia, we are very much committed and believe in the independence of the media and their role in the changing world of today. We politicians are not always happy with the way journos express what they see as a reality on the ground – but even then I believe we need to be very tolerant to them.”

In a campaign to increase even further awareness of the jailing of the Al Jazeera three, an advert was placed in The New York Times and Times Square New York to remind the Egyptian leader and other officials that the three men have been arrested, detained, charged and sentenced for just doing their job of honest, free and fair reporting.


Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were convicted in June of aiding terrorism and spreading false news that portrayed Egypt as being in a state of “civil war.” In a case that sparked international outrage, Greste and Fahmy received seven-year terms, while Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years.

Since their arrest in December 2013, Al Jazeera has received international support calling for their freedom from human rights organisations, news networks and various governments.

On social media, the advert placed in The New York Times alone gave 800,000 impressions on Twitter in the first five hours.

Calls for the release of Al Jazeera staff have previously been made from the White House, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the European Union, the Australian Government and over 150 rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute.

Over 200,000 people have signed petitions globally, including two petitions signed by 150,000 people presented to the Egyptian Vice Counsel in Sydney by Australia’s leading journalists.

Over 40 of the world’s top journalists have also signed a letter demanding the release of the journalists, and media outlets across the globe have staged their own protests, including BBC, CNN, ITN, Channel 4, Fairfax Australia, Toronto Star, VRT deredactie and Iran’s Shargh Daily.

High-profile supporters include leading media personalities Larry King, Christiane Amanpour, Jon Snow, Piers Morgan, Stephen Fry, Ben Wedeman, Brian Stelter, and Alex Thompson, as well as Naomi Klein, Reza Aslan, Mia Farrow and Bianca Jagger.

Similarly public calls of support for the release of the journalists have occurred throughout the social media campaign #FreeAJStaff, with over 137,000 people who have shared their support on Twitter, reaching 112 million people, and delivering over two billion impressions.

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