Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Inspector General of Police-IGP, Martins Okoth Ochola has tasked the Legal Director, Christine Nanding to work with Attorney General to appeal the Constitutional Court judgment nullifying section 8 of the Public Order Management Act. This particular section gave the IGP discretionary powers to stop or prevent public meetings.
However, last week four out of the five Constitutional Court Judges nullified the entire section on grounds that it violates the freedom of assembly and right to demonstrate peacefully which are provided for in the constitution. The judges included Kenneth Kakuru, Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Elizabeth Musoke and Cheborion Barishaki while their colleague Stephen Musota gave a differing judgment.
The judges noted that parliament passed POMA in total disregard of article 92 of the constitution which stops the house from passing any law that may alter any decision or court judgment. They observed that the said provision was purposely made by the legislature to water down the 2008 decision delivered by the same court in the suit where Butambala County MP, Muwanga Kivumbi challenged section 32 of the Police Act which almost gave police similar orders.
In their view, section 8 of POMA was clearly a rebirth of section 32 of the Police Act, which had earlier been nullified by the same court. The petitioners included Human Rights Network Uganda, the Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations –DENIVA, The Uganda Association of Female Lawyers FIDA, Muwanga Kivumbi, the Butambala County MP and Bishop Zac Niringiye.
Now, Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, says their Legal Director is working with a team of lawyers from the Uganda Police Force and Attorney General’s office to file an appeal as soon as possible. “A task team led by the Director Legal and Human Rights Services is working with the Attorney General to appeal against the ruling. We are meanwhile enforcing the ban on public gatherings and meetings under the Statutory Instruments 2020,” Enanga said.
Recently, President, Yoweri Museveni banned all kinds of public gatherings and meetings to control the spread of Covid19. Enanga said police will ensure the president’s directives are enforced without fail. These included among others music concerts, congregational prayers, rallies, marriage ceremonies, wedding parties, vigils and funerals.