Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has asked judicial officers to impose the death penalty on people found guilty of raping women, killing others, and those who destroy property while rioting.
This is among the five elements that he wants the Judiciary to focus on for the development of the economy.
While opening the New Law Year 2022, at the Judiciary headquarters in Kampala, Museveni said people who rape women and those involved in extra judicial killings are supposed to be condemned to face death.
He says the Judiciary should do all it takes to protect life, noting that he doesn’t understand “those things of life imprisonment”.
According to Museveni, in his regime, he has only hanged two people namely Hajji Musa Sebirumbi who was Luwero UPC chairman in the 1980s, and former Inspector General of Police Kassim Obura, adding that the judicial officers should impose the death sentence on the capital offenders and it is up to him to decide whether or not that person should be hanged or forgiven under his presidential prerogative of mercy. To Museveni, the gist should be that the offender should have it in his mind that he was going to face death but was pardoned.
In 2009, the Supreme Court of Uganda abolished the mandatory death sentence following a successful Constitutional petition filed by inmates led by Susan Kigula, who argued that it was unconstitutional and taking away the right to live as given by God.
But for Museveni, he also wants the judicial officers to handle cases involving village thieves with care saying that they should protect the interests of wanainchi, freedom fighters, the army, politicians, and the private sector which he described as the people under his constituency whom he represents.
If not handled well, Museveni says it is most likely to cause a backlash and he threatened to mobilize “them” for a huge demonstration on the streets.
Among the five priorities Museveni wants the Judiciary together with the Director of Public Prosecutions and Police to act on, is to pay attention to the protection of government funds and say no to embezzlement of resources and cases that might violate freedom of speech and result into provocation.
Museveni also applauded the Judiciary for its proposed bail guidelines.
Speaking at the same event, Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo said they are developing bail guidelines that take into consideration the interests of all parties in the case including the victims, the public, and when the guidelines are completed, he wants all the judicial officers to embrace them.
He however asked that the President strengthen the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and increase its manpower saying that it is currently working at 37 percent which also affects the dispensation of justice.
According to the Chief Justice, the Judiciary also needs more resources to recruit more judicial officers in order to bring justice closer to people by having Magistrates Courts in every sub county.
He however says that there is no robust prosecution team, adding that the next time he is going to lobby, he will go with the DPP Jane Frances Abodo for her also to lay down her department’s concerns.
In response, Museveni indicated that he met the DPP who confirmed to him that they are suffering as prosecutors and he told Cabinet that he will be considering their concerns including shortage of staff.