Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has asked president Yoweri Museveni to drop the plans for amending Article 28 (3)a of the 1995Constitution which gives Ugandans a right to apply for bail.
Over the past few days, mr Museveni has been clear about his desire to amend a clause in the constitution that allows all suspects to apply for bail. The president insists that those suspected of committing among others, capital offences like murder,rape, terrorism and treason shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy the benefits of bail.
While addressing media at party headquarters in Najjanankumbi on Monday, FDC Deputy Spokesperson, Kikonyogo John, reminded mr Museveni that the right to apply for bail is inherent to all Ugandans, and therefore the president has no absolute powers to abolish it as it’s only granted on the desecration of the Court.
“Bail may be denied or restricted, the duty to deny bail lies on the state/ prosecution which may present compelling reasons to move Court to deny bail. In other words, every bail application is considered on its own peculiar merit and circumstances,” mr Kikonyogo said.
According to FDC,Uganda being a member of the commonwealth,falls under the Common Law system which is based on the presumption that someone is innocent until proven guilty.
In Uganda, the presumption of innocence is created under Article 28 (3)a of the 1995 constitution and it is entrenched under Article 44(c) of the same Constitution which makes the whole Article 28 non-derogable.
Under Article 260 of the Constitution, the presumption of innocence as created by Article 28 (3)a of the 1995Constitution entrenched by article 44c can only be repealed or amended by a decision of the people of Uganda through a referendum. Therefore the presumption of innocence is a back born of Uganda’scriminal justice system.
The law requires that whoever grants bail it must be through discretional power, such a discretion must be exercised, judiciously (meaning balanced mind with a high degree of ethics and professional competence.
The party argues that this isn’t the first time mr Museveni is attempting to abolish bail. Kikonyogo noted that on May 15th 2011, the president set up a 5 member team to examine his idea of amending the Constitution to deny bail to suspects of economic sabotage, murder, rioters, and hostile media among others.
“We have Ugandans who were imprisoned, granted bail and were rearrested but Court found them innocent 10years later. Joseph Musasizi Kifefe (Kizza Besigye’s brother) Rebert Tweyambe and Frank Atukunda were accused of killing a none existent John Byarugaba in Bushenyi in July 2002,” Kikonyogo said.
He added that in 2007 the above were granted bail but re-arrested.
However, the then DPPRichard Buteera dropped the charges on August18, 2009 through a letter addressed to Charles Kisakye, the Chief Magistrate of Bushenyi District by that time.
It’s also alleged that at the time, Joseph Musasizi was denied treatment and later died in incarceration. He would however after 3years later and already dead be declare innocent!
“As FDC, we want to tell Ugandans that this Bail discussion is not new. Mr Museveni has tried it many times before, the latest being in 2011. We call upon Ugandans not to take this discussion literally, his intention is to engage Ugandans into a constant discussion on merits and demerits of bail,” noted the party
In his latest address to the nation, president Museveni said he would involve all stakeholders to see his plan through. He has already met with the National Resistance Movement members of Parliament to forge a way forward.
Despite the fact he tried to show the caucus that his intentions were to make Uganda a better cou you, reports say most of the members didn’t buy their chairman’s idea.
It’s expected that sooner than later, the MPs will be sent to consult with their constituents and then bring mr Museveni feedback.