The Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo has blasted security services for the re-arrest of suspects in the murder of former AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi, saying the “high-handedness” exhibited by the heavily-armed operatives was a “direct affront to the much cherished rule of law in Uganda.”
“Over time, the Judiciary has noted with concern the increased and persistent cases of interference in the administration of justice by security agencies,” said Owiny-Dollo in a statement issued Thursday evening.
“The recent incident being September 11, 2019 where four murder suspects were wantonly, crudely and brutally re-arrested at the precincts of the International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kololo, which had just released them on bail,” he added.
The suspects: Yusuf Nyanzi, Jibril Kalyango, Joshua Kyambadde and Yusuf Mugerwa, are on trial before ICD for the March 2017 murder of Assistant Inspector General of Police, Andrew Felix Kaweesi.
The security agents, some in plain clothes, took charge of the main gate of the Court and blocked the accused persons from leaving the Court precincts; and then arrested them.
They later whisked away the accused persons to an unknown destination, together with their attorney, James Mubiru.
Owiny-Dollo said a advocate is an officer of Court and must be accorded protection when he or she is executing professional services to accused persons or litigants in Courts of law.
“Such blatant actions, as this one, sadly leads to people’s loss of faith in the Courts of Judicature, which can only result in grave ramifications where people choose not to come to the Courts of law; but to take the law into their hands,” said the Deputy Chief Justice.
“Furthermore, the continued rearrests of suspects in the precincts of the Court, yet again, by security agencies is a sad reminder that more still needs to be done to instill the importance of the rule of law in the institutions charged with keeping law and order,” he emphasised.
The courts have been under pressure in recent years for abetting crime by releasing hardcore criminals on bail.
Following a spate of murders in Kampala, Museveni earlier this week called for an eye-for-an-eye-type of justice, blaming courts for the mess.
”The Political leaders must harmonize with the Courts on the issue of the fundamental concept of Justice. The NRM concept, for most of the time, is an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth. It is only in politics where we adopted reconciliation as a strategy,” said Museveni.
“Part of the reason for being soft in reconciliation is that we had already punished our opponents seriously in war. It is, therefore, not correct to say that those mistake- makers were not punished. They were punished in the conflict. With peace, it was in the national interest to reconcile,” he emphasised.
“This is totally different from the phenomenon of Civilian Courts condoning, aiding and abetting crime by, contrary to the wishes of the country, exonerating criminals. This is promoting impunity.”
But Owiny-Dollo today said even where Courts have made decisions considered to be wrong, the proper course of action is to seek redress within the law.
“We therefore, condemn in the strongest language this wanton disregard to the independence of the Judiciary which is contrary to the protection of the Judiciary enshrined under Article 128 of the Constitution,” said the Deputy Chief Justice.
“We call upon security agencies to refrain from flagrant abuse of the law and hope the perpetrators of such acts are brought to book as a clear and unmistakable statement that actions such as this one cannot be tolerable.”
It remains unclear if security services will hold their own to account.
The operatives’ actions appear to be supported by the executive at least considering Museveni’s recent remarks on courts’ mishandling of high profile cases.
“You may commit a crime, carelessly taking away the lives of others; however, you will also lose your own life. We need to make this clear to the Courts. It must be an eye for eye. Nothing less will be acceptable to the freedom fighters that I represent and the entirety of the electorate of Uganda that I represent,” he warned.
Owiny-Dollo said the Courts of Judicature will continue to pursue the due process and ensure that persons accused before Courts of law are accorded a fair trial to establish their guilt or innocence.