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Transparency International, ACCU call for witnesses protection law

Transparency International, ACCU officials call for swift enactment of a law protecting witnesses. PHOTO via @tiu_uganda

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Transparency International Uganda -TIU, Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda –ACCU and Human Rights Centre Uganda –HRCU, have called for swift enactment of a law protecting witnesses, particularly in corruption cases.

Francis Ekadu, programs director at Transparency International, said lack of a law protecting witnesses has forced many people to fear to appear in courts to pin corrupt officials thus leading to dismissal of cases.

Ekadu said that in a survey conducted by ACCU and Transparency International in public offices a few weeks ago, revealed that several people have evidence that could be used against their seniors over corruption cases but they are not sure of what will happen after revealing the evidence.

“It was also observed during this study that lack of trust from the public towards State Institutions had led would-be whistleblowers to report to more than one institution and this had created overlaps that had led to commitments of time and resources following the same leads that could only have been done once had the trust been there,” Ekadu said.

Cissy Kagaba, ACCU’s executive director, castigated government for failing to enact a Witness Protection Law to safeguard Whistle Blowers who in most cases have become key witnesses in corruption-related matters.

Kagaba said officials from the Ethics Directorate, Judiciary and Inspectorate of Government –IG urged Civil Society Organisations –CSOs to advocate for establishment of a Leadership Code Tribunal as stipulated in Section 3 of the Leadership Code Act.

“The absence of a Leadership Code Tribunal has made it difficult for the Inspectorate of Government to dispose off cases, attend to appeals and adjudicate in arbitrations. The IG has manpower shortfalls and deficiency in skills to handle the complex tasks that the fight against corruption especially in the new age of an interconnected world presents,” Kagaba said.

Kagaba said in some cases whistle blowers’ identities have under unclear circumstances been exposed during investigations or trial which discourages others from providing information that could be vital in deterring the corruption vice.

Marita Mugasha, Program officer for research and training at Human Rights Centre Uganda, asked the government to ensure full operationalization of the Leadership Code Tribunal.

“We call upon government to rescind recent amendments to the Leadership Code Act 2002 (as amended) that removed spouses and children of persons to whom the law applies from declaring income and assets owned by them,” Mugasha said.

Kagaba urged government to urgently enact a witness protection law to complement the current Whistle Blower Protection Act and to extensively promote public awareness about these laws.

Transparency Internal corruption index for the last five years put Uganda in 142nd position out of 165 most corrupt countries, and 149th out of 181 countries in 2018 thus depicting a relatively stagnate position.

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