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Lawyers sue govt for ‘failing’ to translate Constitution into local language

Mr Michael Aboneka (R) in the High Court registry filing his case. (PHOTO/Rachel Agaba)

KAMPALA – Two lawyers have dragged the government to court for allegedly failing to translate the Constitution into 56 local languages.

In their lawsuit filed before the High Court Civil division, the two lawyers claim that the Attorney General has unreasonably and deliberately failed in his duty to cause or to have the translation of the Constitution into various Uganda local languages and dissemination of the same as wide as possible for 24years after the 1995 Constitution came into force.

The two who include; Martins Kirya and Michael Aboneka say that the Attorney General has a duty and obligation of promotion of public awareness of the Constitution under Article 4.

They state that under the said article, the state mandatorily committed itself and was obligated to promote public awareness of the Constitution into all local languages to enable all citizens read, understand and appreciate their rights and obligations which rights are given by God.

“That ever since the promulgation and commencement of the 1995 Constitution, the state has deliberately failed to cause or complete the translation and dissemination of the Constitution in the various indigenous languages as mandated by the Constitution to enable the plaintiffs (the two lawyers) and the other indigenous Ugandans know their rights and obligations in their local dialect which is contrary to the law,” reads in part the court documents.

The court documents further indicate that the state has failed to provide for the teaching of the Constitution in all educational institutions and armed forces training institutions and regularly transmitting and publishing programs through the media generally as per its mandatory mandate.

The two lawyers claim that due to the state’s failures, their right and the rest of the indigenous Ugandans to have been taught and to be taught the Constitution in the indigenous languages has been violated and continue to be violated by the Attorney General.

“As a result, many of the Ugandan citizens especially those that cannot comprehend the English language and the illiterates have been denied an opportunity to be informed of their inherent rights as enshrined in the 1995 Constitution which are written in English language,” the court documents further state.

It is further stated that the citizens are continuously innocently victimised at the expense of the subjective laws of this country which presume that everyone knows the law and therefore ignorance of it is not a defense yet the fundamental laws have deliberately not been translated in the various local languages.

Through their lawyers of Thomas & Michael Advocates the two lawyers are seeking orders that the Attorney General should immediately commence or draw up plans to complete the translation if any and subsequently disseminate the Constitution in the 56 indigenous languages.

They also want the Attorney General to complete its aforementioned task within a period of 2 years as being reasonable time from the date of this judgement and orders.

The two also want an order compeling the Attorney General to provide monthly updates to the court, plaintiffs and the general public on the status of their progress in fulfilling the above mandate which should also consider the visually impaired persons.

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