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NETPIL Calls for Effective Access to Justice

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The Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL) has called on various state actors (police, security agencies, courts of law) to ensure effective access to justice as well as effective remedies to the people of Uganda. This call was made at a media breakfast meeting held on Wednesday, 17th November, 2021 at Piato Restaurant in Kampala. The meeting was intended to equip media personnel with knowledge and skills to report on abuses as well as seek a remedy for victims. The Report titled ‘The 2021 General Elections’ in Uganda: Human Rights Violations & the Spectacle of Violence’ produced by NETPIL was also shared.

NETPIL brings together individual lawyers, CSOs/NGOs and law firms committed to public interest litigation and advocacy; NETPIL is hosted by the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) established at the School of law, Makerere University in 2012. PILAC seeks to promote hands-on experiential learning as well as exposing students to ‘live’ cases of individuals who have been confronted by the law in its varied manifestations.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr. Arthur Nsereko – Coordinator, NETPIL said ‘Access to justice (A2J) is a right and basic principle of the rule of law. In the absence of access to justice, people are unable to have their voice heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination or hold decision-makers accountable’. He noted that numerous reports have been recorded on violations and abuse in Uganda, but never follow through with access to justice for the abused.

Mr. Nsereko further explained that the State has a duty to respect, protect and fulfil rights including particularly the duty of states to ensure that the rights are implemented through the provision of legislative measures and judicial remedies, in accordance with the national legal system. The State is also obliged to take appropriate steps both to prevent rights violations and to investigate, punish and redress such abuse when it does occur – in other words, to provide access to remedy.

Facts shared at the meeting about the November 2020 riots highlighted that at least 54 people including women and children were reported extra judicially killed where 32 were adjudged rioters, hit by stray bullets while 22 persons were declared innocent and these included juveniles. However, an effective remedy, including reparation and compensation have not been possible for those affected which is a violation of rights.

Ms. Veronica Kange – Legal Officer, Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC), School of law, Makerere University makes her presentation.
Ms. Veronica Kange – Legal Officer, Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC), School of law, Makerere University makes her presentation.

Presenting at the meeting, Ms. Veronica Kange – Legal Officer, PILAC said ‘for the violation of every right, there must be a remedy. Rights and Freedoms are meaningless if there are no consequences for their violations. For a remedy to be adequate, it should be accessible, affordable, timely and effective. The remedies should be simple and urgent’.

‘There is an expectation by victims to access effective remedies premised on restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, guarantees of non-repetition as well as satisfaction’, Ms. Kange noted.

Issues arising from the presentations and discussions included:

  • In boardrooms, lecture rooms we may not be able to solve the challenges hence involvement of the media to disseminate the messages.
  • There is a right to truth, justice and remedy.
  • Uganda has very good laws but implementation is poor.
  • Backlog in courts deters people from seeking for justice in courts of law.
  • There is need for effective court processes.
  • There is common belief that justice is for the rich because of the costs involved.
  • There is thought that the state has abdicated its responsibility.
  • Appreciate that police and government always say that they will investigate but how soon do the remedies happen.
  • Pre-emptive statement by leaders biases the final decision example bail discussions in parliament.
  • The State must respect its institutions.
  • Treatment of suspects by the statement.
  • Police and other security agencies should desist from use of force or live ammunition when dealing with suspects.
  • Interim reports would be welcome as we await final report.
  • Opportunity to engage the institutions concerned by civil society but where it fails then alternative steps can be explored.

At the end of the meeting, a press statement on the ‘denial of political players’ to access broadcasting houses’ was presented.

Please see Downloads below for the presentations.

Zaam Ssali is the Principal Communication Officer SoL & MakCHS

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Vice Chancellor congratulates School of Law team upon winning the 2022 All-Africa Human Rights Moot

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The Vice Chancellor-Professor Barnabas Nawangwe (Centre) with Mak Moot Society Patron-Dr. Daniel Ruhweza (Right), SoL Alumni & Team Coach-Mr. David Kasibante (Left) and winners: Ms. Kevin Nakimbugwe (2nd Left) and Mr. Edwin Sabiiti (2nd Right) with their certificates of recognition on 4th August 2022, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University.

Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor – Makerere University has congratulated the Makerere University School of Law (SoL) team – Ms. Kevin Nakimbugwe and Mr. Edwin Sabiiti upon winning the 2022 edition of the Christof Heyns African Human Rights Moot Court Competition. The Moot Competition held from the 25th – 30th July in Cairo, Egypt was hosted by The British University in Egypt.

The All Africa Moot Competition is named after Professor Christof Heyns (1959-2021)who was a Professor of Human Rights Law, Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa at the University of Pretoria and a member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The 2022 edition attracted a total of 50 Law Schools, 38 of these were English speakers.

The Vice Chancellor hosted the winning team in his Office on Thursday, 4th August, 2022 and presented Certificates of Recognition to Kevin and Edwin for making Makerere University proud. Dr. Daniel Ruhweza, Lecturer at SoL and Patron of the Makerere University Moot Society and Mr. David Kasibante, alumni – SoL and team coach also attended the presentation.

Dr. Daniel Ruhweza (Centre) flanked by Ms. Kevin Nakimbugwe (Left) and Mr. Edwin Sabiiti (Right).
Dr. Daniel Ruhweza (Centre) flanked by Ms. Kevin Nakimbugwe (Left) and Mr. Edwin Sabiiti (Right).

Explaining to the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Ruhweza said, “We are happy that you have hosted this team which worked so hard to bring the trophy home”. He also highlighted the rigorous process through which the team that represented Makerere University was selected.

In his remarks, Professor Nawangwe said, “I congratulate you for winning the competition and making Makerere University proud, more especially in this centennial year of celebration for the institution. Thank you for flying the Makerere flag high which instils confidence that the University and our School of Law are centres of excellence”. He commended the team for their commitment and doing their best to represent Makerere University. Professor Nawangwe also thanked Dr. Ruhweza for committing time to support the students. He added, “this is an activity that should be supported and I will present it to the University Council for inclusion in the budget for financial year 2023/2024”.

Sharing their experience from attending the competition, Kevin and Edwin explained to the Vice Chancellor what is entailed in participating.

Ms. Kevin Nakimbugwe shows off her accolades.
Ms. Kevin Nakimbugwe shows off her accolades.

“The Moot was very challenging in-terms of preparing for the competition while balancing it with class work; the processing of travel documents and visas was also quiet hard. We are grateful that you have hosted us here today and also the support of the SoL, University that enabled us to triumph despite the challenges”, Ms. Nakimbugwe said. Kevin added, “we are a brilliant team and our win is evidence”.

Edwin Sabiiti who is also the President of the Makerere University Moot Society said, “the society organises internal moots, identifies the students to represent the University at various competitions. We participate in several competitions within the country, continent and internationally, only that this is the most prestigious. Makerere University are reigning champions of the national Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) Moot Court Competition”.

Mr. Edwin Sabiiti, President Makerere University Moot Society.
Mr. Edwin Sabiiti, President Makerere University Moot Society.

Edwin further explained that mooting is an opportunity to learn as well as apply the law that we learn in class. He expressed that the University should consider inclusion of mooting as a course unit on the academic transcript because a lot of time is spent in preparing for the various competitions. Edwin also requested that the University extends a supporting arm in facilitating preparations for the various moots that the students participate in.

SoL teams also won the 2018 competition held in Accra Ghana; were 2nd in 2019 edition held in Gaborone, Botswana and emerged finalists in the 2020 edition held online and the 2021 edition held in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Read more about the Competition:https://www.chr.up.ac.za/moot#:~:text=The%20Christof%20Heyns%20African%20Human,of%20human%20rights%20in%20Africa

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Inaugural Makerere Law Journal Symposium held

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Part of the audience at the Makerere Law Journal (MLJ), Symposium held at the School of Law, Makerere University on 17th June 2022. Photo credit: MLJ.

The Makerere University School of Law (SoL) held the Inaugural Makerere Law Journal (MLJ) Symposium on 17th June 2022 under the theme, ‘Charting the Course and Diversifying Scholarly Content’. The symposium was held to give opportunity to authors of outstanding papers in recent issues of the MLJ to present their work to the general membership of the Makerere Law Society (MLS) and the public. The symposium was supported by the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC), SoL.

The MLJ is a student-edited law journal published by the SoL under the auspices of the law students’ union, MLS. The journal founded in 1971 considers submissions from legal writers, students, and scholars within Uganda and beyond. Quoting the pioneer editor of the MLJ, Daniel Omara Atubo, ‘the journal was intended as a medium for discourse on the immense problems of law’. The submissions may be for education purposes; aimed at causing law reform in the jurisprudence of Uganda or other African jurisdictions on matters of legal doctrine and philosophy; human rights; public policy; governance; economics among others.

Previously, the MLJ was printed annually, however, it is now a free-access online publication that considers, reviews and publishes submissions on a rolling year basis throughout the year. Access issues of the MLJ here: https://makererelawjournal.org/. At the inaugural symposium four papers were presented and interrogated by subject experts. Highlights of the papers are detailed below.

Dr. Rose Nakayi, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, discusses the paper 'A Case for The Application of the Theory of Deferred Indefeasibility in Uganda as an Instrument to Promote Indefeasibility of Title Under the Registration of Titles Act’. Photo credit: MLJ.
Dr. Rose Nakayi, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, discusses the paper ‘A Case for The Application of the Theory of Deferred Indefeasibility in Uganda as an Instrument to Promote Indefeasibility of Title Under the Registration of Titles Act’. Photo credit: MLJ.

Tukwatanise Hans Rwantangare presented his paper titled, ‘A Case for The Application of the Theory of Deferred Indefeasibility in Uganda as an Instrument to Promote Indefeasibility of Title Under the Registration of Titles Act’. Abstract: The theory of deferred indefeasibility as opposed to immediate indefeasibility is presented as a means to improve security of title today. A comparison is made of the relative merits and demerits of the two theories of deferred and immediate indefeasibility. In so doing, the aim is to reconcile the outdated theory of immediate indefeasibility with the modern legal regime and to preserve its relevance in the prevailing socio-economic situation. In a comparative analysis, other jurisdictions, especially Canada are studied to ascertain how they have evolved their interpretation of the same. Inevitably, indefeasibility, as a concept of real property is analysed considering human rights perspectives as relatively impacted by the two theories.For more about Hans’ paper click: https://makererelawjournal.org/view-publication/35. The paper was discussed by  Dr. Rose Nakayi, Senior Lecturer at SoL. Dr. Nakayi is a seasoned expert in land law and rights and an advocate for the reform of the mailo land tenure system.

Fatumah Ramathan-Nabulya presents her paper during the Inaugural MLJ Symposium. Photo credit: MLJ.
Fatumah Ramathan-Nabulya presents her paper during the Inaugural MLJ Symposium. Photo credit: MLJ.

Fatumah Ramathan-Nabulya presented her paper which had reviewed a case Baryamureeba V Kabakonjo Abwooli. In her review she argued that it was ‘A Win for Women’s Property Rights in Cohabitation’. Abstract: Marriage, especially at its dissolution, tends to be contentious owing to its cross cutting effects on property rights, children custody, spousal maintenance among others. It is more complex when that “union” is not legally recognized. Over 65% of Uganda’s couples are left out under the law because their arrangements are not contracted in accordance with the laws provided for. This potentially subjects women to unequal social laws (patriarchy) usually with no legal remedies. Hence, marriage, due to its overarching effects, can be breeding ground for the entrenchment of gender inequality. This paper reviews a High Court decision through which judicial activism is employed to lessen the plight of cohabiting women. Due to the time they have been in operation, it is often difficult to see our matrimonial laws for what they really are; patriarchal and gender indiscriminate. There is need for Judges to be fully alive to the history of these laws and the debates that led to their passing, to correct the wrongs of history.For more about Fatumah’s paper click: https://makererelawjournal.org/view-publication/23. Dr. Diana Musoke, Senior Lecturer, Islamic University in Uganda and expert on family law discussed the paper.

Ruth Muhawe presents her paper ‘The Human Rights Implications of Uganda’s Borrowing’ . Photo credit: MLJ.
Ruth Muhawe presents her paper ‘The Human Rights Implications of Uganda’s Borrowing’. Photo credit: MLJ.

The Human Rights Implications of Uganda’s Borrowing’ paper was presented by Ruth Muhawe. Abstract: The relationship between the sovereign debt of developing countries and the protection of the social rights of citizens in those countries has received considerable analysis from the economic, political and moral perspectives, but relatively little has been written from the legal point of view. Consequently, this paper provides legal insights into the lingering crisis that sovereign debt poses to human rights, with a specific focus on the economy of Uganda. The paper is particularly concerned with examining what Uganda’s debt burden means for the basic observance and enjoyment of human rights by its citizens of both the present and the future.For more about Ruth’s paper click: https://makererelawjournal.org/issues (MLJ 2019 Issue) A constitutional law and international law expert, Dr. Busingye Kabumba, Senior Lecturer at SoL was the discussant of the paper.

Joshua Kingdom presents the joint paper The Legal Risks of Cryptocurrency On State Sovereignty; A Case Study of Uganda’. Photo credit: MLJ.
Joshua Kingdom presents the joint paper The Legal Risks of Cryptocurrency On State Sovereignty; A Case Study of Uganda’. Photo credit: MLJ.

A joint paper titled, ‘The Legal Risks of Cryptocurrency On State Sovereignty; A Case Study of Uganda’ was presented by Ntamugabumwe Victor & Joshua Kingdom. Abstract:State sovereignty is conventionally known to mean that all states are equal under Public International Law, the decisive criterion being effective power over territory and people. Indeed, the most rudimentary definition of a state is the organization of power over territory and people within that territory. However, sovereignty today depends much on the state’s monetary independence – the state’s capacity to control the flow of money and currency in their jurisdiction. With the constant evolution of money transactions from Cash to credit and then to crypto, the state must always be ready for each revolution so that sovereignty is kept. Cryptocurrencies work outside the existing legal financial framework and as such avoid the state’s invented structure to control their monetary policies, stability to achieve sovereignty.For more about the paper click: https://makererelawjournal.org/view-publication/17

Mr. Robert Kirunda (Right) discusses The Legal Risks of Cryptocurrency On State Sovereignty; A Case Study of Uganda’. Left is Dr. Busingye Kabumba, Senior Lecturer, School of Law.
Mr. Robert Kirunda (Right) discusses The Legal Risks of Cryptocurrency On State Sovereignty; A Case Study of Uganda’. Left is Dr. Busingye Kabumba, Senior Lecturer, School of Law.

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Deans of Law Schools meet to discuss strengthening Clinical Legal Education (CLE)

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Group Photo of Deans of Schools of Law at the meeting. Professor Christopher Mbazira, Principal Makerere University School of Law (standing, 4th front line)

On the 22nd June 2022, Professor Christopher Mbazira, Principal – Makerere University School of Law joined other Deans of Law Schools under the auspices of the East African Network of University Law Clinic (EANULAC) to discuss how to strengthen collaboration in the area of clinical methodology to teach law. Other Deans attending the meeting were Dr. Ines Kajiru, Dean of Law, University of Dodoma; Dr. Ana-Luis Haule, Dean of Law, Ruaha Catholic University; Ms Halima Miigo, Dean of Law, University of Iringa, and Ms. Agnes Mwiza Ngussa, representing Ms. Esther Mdegipala, the Dean of Law, St. Jordan University College, Morogoro Tanzania. EANULAC is supported by the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABAROLI) in this initiative.

Representatives from SoL, PILAC and EANULAC during their visit to St. Jordan University in Morogoro, Tanzania. These trained Law Lecturers from universities across Tanzania on the use of clinical methods of teaching at Makerere.
Representatives from SoL, PILAC and EANULAC during their visit to St. Jordan University in Morogoro, Tanzania. These trained Law Lecturers from universities across Tanzania on the use of clinical methods of teaching at Makerere.

At the meeting, the Deans discussed ways of strengthening collaboration in the area of using the clinical methodology to teach law, which involves teaching the law in context and using experiential learning methods. The Deans agreed: To use the expertise and student resources at their universities to promote human rights and access to justice in the communities in their neighbourhoods; To engage in joint activities, sharing of resources and jointly mobilise research grants in advancing their Schools and legal education in the East African region. In addition, the Deans took note of the need to revive the East African Law Teachers Association (EALTA) and committed to pursuing this matter. The EALTA will serve as a forum for sharing experiences and academic resources as well as developing curricular in line with the needs of the region.

Deans of Law Schools attend one of the sessions.
Deans of Law Schools attend one of the sessions.

The meeting was preceded by a training in the use of the clinical methodology of teaching law held on 21st June 2022 at St. Jordan University College in Morogoro, Tanzania. Over 30 law lecturers from the University of Dodoma, Mzumbe University, Makerere University, Ruaha Catholic University, University of Iringa, Muslim University Morogoro were trained.

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