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Age limit appeals fixed for hearing via video conferencing

FILE PHOTO: Advocate Ssemakadde assists activist lawyer Male Mabirizi with court documents at Supreme Court premises.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A panel of three Judges of the East African Court of Justice will hear consolidated appeals challenging the scrapping of the presidential age cap from the Ugandan Constitution.

A notice issued by Yufnalis Okubo, the Registrar of the East African Court of Justice shows that the panel comprises of Principal Justice Monica Mugenyi, Justice Dr. Peter Nyawello and Charles Nyachae.

The registrar summons the seven parties to the suit including Male Mabirizi and Ugandan Attorney General William Byaruhanga to appear via video conferencing for the hearing of the matter on July 13th, 2020.

The other petitioners are Members of Parliament Winfred Kiiza, John Baptist Nambeshe, Gerald Karuhanga, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, Betty Nambooze, former MP Alice Asianut Alaso and Human rights activist, Irene Ovonji Odida.

The registrar asks the parties to abide by the guidelines for video conferencing proceedings to enable a smooth session.

He says the proceedings will be like any other court session and parties are expected to conduct themselves in the usual manner.

Okubo directs the lawyers to dress properly in their gowns, be in a calm environment, avoid turning papers whiling making their submissions, adding that sharing of documents amidst court session will be done with the help of the IT Staff.

Mabirizi is worried about the implications of using video conferencing to hear the matter saying it may cost him additional resources.

This is going to be the first time for East African Court of Justice to conduct proceedings via video conferencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has since claimed thousands of lives across the globe.

Normally, the proceedings are conducted in Arusha Tanzania where the East African Court of Justice sits.

About the Case

In May 2019, the petitioners led by Mabirizi petitioned the East African Court of Justice challenging the removal of the age limit from the Ugandan constitution. They argued that several actions, directives and decisions of all the three organs of the government of Uganda in conceptualizing, processing and upholding the removal of the 75 year age limit were unlawful.

They argued that the actions infringed on some provisions of the East African Community where Uganda is a signatory. They faulted Parliament from scrapping the age limit law without consulting Ugandans as provided for by the constitution, adding that the process leading to the same was marred with irregularities such as bribery of legislators and violence in parliament.

The also faulted the executive arm of government led by President Yoweri Museveni for assenting to the Bill without verifying that there was a certificate of compliance accompanying it. The petitioners first petitioned the constitutional and Supreme Courts in Uganda which upheld the bill saying it had been passed within the conformity of the law.

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