Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has pledged to expedite the enactment of a law to operationalize Khadi courts.
The Constitution provides for the establishment of Khadi courts for marriage, divorce, the inheritance of property and guardianship especially for those practicing the Muslim faith.
However, since 1995, no law has been passed to operationalize them under the national judicial system.
Kadaga while officiating as chief guest during the 3rd annual Muslim Human Rights conference on Wednesday at Imperial Royale Hotel said she had expected the law on Khadi courts to be introduced by the government during the current session but it had not been tabled.
Kadaga has asked the Muslims to continue lobbying for its introduction on the floor.
The matter of the Kahdi courts was raised to the speaker by the President of the Muslim Center for Justice and Law, Umar Nyanzi.
Dr Zahara Nampeewo from the Human Rights and Peace Center at Makerere University’s School of Law laments that whereas the Khadi courts are formally recognized, there is no legislation to guide their work and thus they exist informally and are guided by Sharia law.
Kadaga also noted with concern the delay by the government to introduce amendments to several laws on family justice.
She has pointed out that several judgements have been handed down by the courts concerning the Marriage and Divorce Act but the government has not made any effort to move amendments to accommodate these judgements.
She says that there is a gap in what has been adjudicated and what remains on the statute books.
Kadaga says the Succession bill will be handled between February and May right after the elections when parliament convenes to complete outstanding business. The Succession (Amendment) Bill, 2018, is one of the pending gender-related Bills under consideration by Parliament.
She also observed that access to courts by most Ugandans is limited by distance and finances which should be addressed.
Dr Nampeewo says several dynamics are interwoven leading to the marginalization of the Muslim community concerning access to justice. She points to two major factors which are low levels of literacy and poverty.
She notes that this is compounded by the low numbers of Muslim lawyers and advocates.