KAMPALA–The Minister of Justice, Kahinda Otafiire, has come under fire from MPs over government’s failure to conclude the drafting and tabling of a number of essential bills for enactment.
A number of MPs on the legal and parliamentary affairs committee criticized the minister for laying emphasis on specific constitutional amendments while ignoring a number of legislations that affect the common man.
Monica Amoding, the Kumi Woman MP, was concerned that a number of laws have been pending for decades forcing private members to take the initiative of tabling bills in order to avail justice to citizens.
“Whereas you can fast track the constitutional amendments in two three months you are done with them, how come you cannot deal with the Marriage bill conclusively, succession act and also other gender related laws that we have been talking about for 20, 30, 50 years?” she queried.
Amoding was obviously referring to the age limit bill that was given exceptional priority status by the government and brought all other pending business in parliament to a halt.
Some of the pending laws that MPs have raised concerns about include the Marriage and divorce act, the Succession act, the Administrator General’s act as well as the Witness Protection Act.
Otafiire informed the MPs that the Marriage and Divorce bill has been reshaped and will soon be re-tabled, adding that the Marriage and Divorce aspects have been split into two separate bills with contentious clauses in the original bill extracted and put in a separate bill.
He says the new form will be more acceptable to the population and will be presented to Cabinet shortly.
He, however, noted that government cannot allow a private member to table the Marriage and Divorce bill.
“We are reluctant to cede that bill to a private member it has law and order and harmony implications that is why we are bringing it back in a more refined version and we hope parliament will cooperate with us,” he stated.
MPs were informed that the Attorney General has authorized the drafting of the succession act, the missing persons act and the administrator general’s act.
Otafiire was also asked to brief the committee on the status of the administration of justice bill which is aimed at providing for and strengthening the independence of the Judiciary.
Otafiire stated that this bill is being held back by a small hiccup regarding the retirement component of judges.
“There are proposals for retirement of judges which have not been aligned with the budgeting process so as soon as the money is found we shall table the bill,” he told MPs.