KAMPALA – Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has tasked the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to speed up sexual harassment Investigations against Deputy Solicitor General, Christopher Gashirabake.
The ministry had earlier said it set up a committee in February 2019 to investigate the allegations made by Senior State Attorney, Samantha Mwesigye against Mr Gashirabake.
And Ms Kadaga said she has already got in touch with the ministry over the matter.
“I have been told that the committee comprises five members and we have agreed that we wait for the committee to complete its investigations and then we shall know how to proceed,” she told journalists on Friday.
She added that the Gender Ministry officials had said that if the subject is not satisfied with the outcome of the committee, she can appeal to the Commissioner for Labour and Industrial Relations, and to the Industrial Court, if not satisfied with the labour commissioner.
“I just want the country to know that I made an undertaking to find out what is happening within the government and I got an answer from the Prime Minister, Attorney General and Ministry of Gender,” said Kadaga.
On March 6, Ms Samantha Mwesigye, a Senior State Attorney in the Attorney General’s chambers, wrote to Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to act against Mr Gashirabake, claiming that her bosses have not helped her reign in on the Deputy Solicitor General, whom she claimed has sexually harassed her for nearly 10 years.
But in a statement released on Tuesday, May 13, Solicitor General Francis Atoke said in December 2018, he received a formal complaint from Ms. Mwesigye and on 6th February 2019, constituted a Sexual Harassment Committee to investigate the allegations.
“I constituted a Sexual Harassment Committee as required by the Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations 2012. The committee is chaired by the Administrator General and other senior officials from the Ministry i.e.; the Secretary Law Council, the Acting Undersecretary Finance & Administration and the Assistant Commissioner Human Resource Management,” the statement reads in part.
Mr Atoke said the Committee has since reviewed the evidence that Ms Mwesigye submitted to his office and ordered Mr Gashirabake to defend himself in the claims.
“The Committee has since reviewed the evidence that Ms. Mwesigye submitted to my office vis-a-vis the Employment Act 2006 and the Employment (Sexual Harassment) Regulations 2012. On 29th April 2019, the Committee requested Ms. Mwesigye to submit additional evidence, if any, related to the allegations, which she duly provided on May 5, 2019, in form of emails and WhatsApp messages between her and the accused. You may note that this happened four days before her interview with the media on Thursday, May 9 2019,” the statement reads in part.
“The Committee has similarly written to the accused to tender in his response to the allegations. The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has taken every effort to address the allegations through the established structures and will continue to handle the matter to its conclusion,” it adds.
Mr Atoke said the Justice ministry remains firm that the committee will do a thorough job and as soon as its investigations are complete, a report will be submitted to the top management of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, with recommendations for appropriate action.
“We, therefore, call upon the public and other stakeholders in this matter to allow the committee to complete its investigations without undue influence or prejudice. We remain committed to serving justice for all,” he said.
The statement is a total opposite of what Ms Mwesigye told the Prime Minister.
In her letter to the Prime Minister, she apologises for jumping protocol claiming that her bosses have not helped her.
“Prior to contacting you, all attempts at following protocol have not yielded any results. The background of my complaint is as follows; I met Mr Gashirabake when he supervised me as a clerkship student in 2005. This is when the sexual harassment started,” Ms Mwesigye states.
“At the time, it involved snide remarks and jokes of sexual nature. I then joined the ministry as an employee in 2007 and he became my immediate supervisor. It was then that he started a full-blown assault on me offering to take me to lunch, asking to take me on long weekends away and occasionally asking to take me to a lodge for instant gratification,” she adds.