Uganda has a proud history of an independent Judiciary – one wonders how they are to withstand public sentiment when they rule for the Constitution and “against the people’ – or so it seems!
By Melanie Nathan, September 30, 2014.
The Ugandan Press is reporting on a two-day judicial symposium with judges of the appellate courts and a selected few from the high court as well as some from the East African region which focuses on how to effectively handle public interest cases.
Specifically the Press noted that the Ugandan Judges responded for the first time to the backlash they had experienced from their unanimous decision to declare the Anti-Homosexuality Act invalid, based on a technicality. The law was annulled for having been passed without the required quorum of one-third of all the members of Parliament.
“One of the Court of Appeal/ Constitutional judges who annulled the anti-gay law has come out to say that they have received public backlash for having taken the decision they did.
Justice Solomy Bossa Balungi said that despite receiving the backlash from the public over the decision they took.”
Further the Daily Monitor noted that the Judge:
“…hit back at those criticizing them for having quashed the antigay law, saying their decision is in “black and white” and that those aggrieved can appeal in a higher court instead of lashing at them.”
The other justices included; Acting deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma who led the panel, Augustine Nshimye, Eldad Mwangusya and Rubby Aweri Opio.
The Justices faulted the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga for having acted illegally when she ignored her constitutional responsibility and presided over the passing the law without ascertaining whether there was quorum in the House or not.
“We have received a lot of community backlash for the annulment of the antigay law. We had not responded to them since our judgment but the same is in black and white and as judges, I think we did our job,” said justice Bossa on Monday during the Judicial Symposium at Chobe Safari Lodge organized by Judicial Studies Institute (JSI) and International Governance Alliance (IGA) on public interest litigation.
She added, “The judgment is in black and white and those who are aggrieved with it; should appeal before the Supreme Court.”
One can only imagine the backlash had the Court ruled on the human rights issues in the case, in favor of annulment. However they only ruled on the technicality, leaving the human rights issues without adjudication and an opportunity for the Parliamentarians to re-table a new Bill.
Most parliamentarians signed a petition to bring the Bill back and the Attorney General filed a notice of appeal.