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Lawyer challenges gov’t gazettement of Red Berets

FILE PHOTO: Bobi Wine waering the Red Beret

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A lawyer Ivan Bwowe has dragged government to the Civil Division of High Court for gazetting red berets as military attires.

On September, 18th, 2019, the Government through the Minister of Defense Adolf Mwesige published in the National Gazette indicating that red berets, ankle and ranger boots in black colours among other items are part of the accessories, Insignia and Marks of the army in as afar as Section 160 of the UPDF Act is concerned.

This implied that whoever is found with the said property stands chances of being subjected to the military law and thus prosecuted.

The red beret is popularly worn by the People Power pressure group headed by the Kyadondo East Legislator Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, who has rallied his supporters to defy the ban.

In an application filed before the civil division of High Court in Kampala, Bwowe is seeking a declaration that the said gazette is illegal and amounts to abuse of the law.

“The notice has grave consequences as it aims to criminalize the wearing of red berets by citizens, black boots illegally included in the Notice published in the gazette extraordinary Volume CX.No.46 as per the section 160 and 164 of the UPDF Act”, reads the application in part.

He also wants a permanent injunction restraining the government and state institutions from arresting or prosecuting any citizen relying on the contentious gazette.

Bwowe contends that the Minister of Defense exceeded his powers by gazetting items not covered by section 160 of the UPDF Act. The said section gazettes insignias, marks and other decorations of the military.

But the applicant states that the current red berets that have been on streets of Kampala and being worn by civilians have logos or marks that are totally different from those of the army.

Bwowe now wants High Court to compel the government to publish in the gazette a proper notice only limited to a mark or marks in accordance with the law.  He also wants orders compelling government to withdraw the said notice.

The date of hearing the case is yet to be fixed.

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