Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Interparty Organisation for Dialogue- IPOD has commended the constitutional court for nullifying Section 8 of the Public Order Management Act- POMA 2013.
This particular section granted discretionary powers to the Inspector General of Police-IGP or his representative to stop or prevent a public meeting whose convener has not met the requirements as stipulated in the law.
The law provided that that one writes to the IGP notifying him or her of the meeting at least three days prior and gets feedback on the same.
However, on June 27th 2016, Human Rights Network Uganda, the Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations –DENIVA, the Association of Female Lawyers FIDA, Muwanga Kivumbi, the Butambala County MP and Bishop Zac Niringiye filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of the said provisions.
On March 26th, 2020, four of the five member bench of the Constitutional court concurred with applicants, saying the provisions violate the constitutional freedom of assembly and the right to demonstrate peacefully.
The IPOD Chairperson and Forum for Democratic Change- FDC party Secretary General, Nathan Nandala Mafabi welcomed the judgment in a statement issued on Tuesday. He said the judgment will aid peaceful political activities.
“As leaders of Political Parties under IPOD, we appreciate the important guidance given by the constitutional court on this matter, which we believe will contribute immensely towards peaceful conduct of political activities, an important ingredient of any healthy democracy,” reads part of the statement. Opposition members have often raised concern on the interpretation of POMA and accused government of using police to crackdown on their activities.
Last year, the IPOD summit noted the concern and decided to come up with regulations that would guide the implementation of POMA. The regulations were drafted and passed by the IPOD Council and forwarded to the office of the Prime Minister for assessment by the National Security council before they are presented to parliament for consideration. This is yet to happen.
Nandala who applauded court for “rejection of the notion that police have ’supernatural powers’ to determine that a particular public gathering or protest should not be allowed because it will result in a breach of peace” has called upon government, security and all Political Parties to respect the judgment and work together towards lawful, peaceful and orderly public engagements.
Police has since indicated its decision to appeal the judgment in collaboration with the Attorney General.