KAMPALA – The Police Spokesperson CP Fred Enanga has revealed that the Director Legal and Human Rights Services is working with Attorney General to appeal against the constitutioal court annulment of section 8 of the Public Order Management Act.
The section have discretionary powers to police to stop, or prevent the holding of a public meeting, where the public meeting is held contrary to the Act.
According to a statement dated March 30, 2020, Enanga noted that the law keeping institution welcomed the court ruling.
He on the other hand said that they are enforcing the ban on public gatherings and meeting under the statutory instruments 202, No.52 of the Public Health rules 2020.
“The places and premises and activities, events and gatherings as the case maybe, specified in this subrule shall be closed or banned respectively until the date specified,” reads an excerpt.
The banned public gatherings include schools, bars, churches and mosques, marriage ceremonies, concerts among others.
“We anticipate the full cooperation of all citizens in observing the ban on public gatherings by the ministry of health in the best interest of Ugandans,” said Enanga.
He added that, “At this stage, every single effort in reducing the number of physical contacts per day, well aware of the negative impact of the virus, will help curb the spread of the covid-19 in our country.”
The Constitutional Court March 26, 2020, nullified Section 8 of the Public Order Management Act (POMA), 2013, saying it is inconsistent with the construction that guarantees human freedom of association.
In a majority decision of 4:1, the Justices poked holes in sections of the law that grant police officers authority to stop or prevent a public gathering.
The four Justices are Kenneth Kakuru, Elizabeth Musoke and Cheboroin Barishaki and Geoffrey Kiryabwire while Stephen Musota was the only dissenting Justice.
Section 8 (1) of POMA 2013, reads: “Subject to the directions of the IGP, an authorised officer or any other police officer of or above the rank of inspector, may stop or prevent the holding of a public meeting where the public meeting is held contrary to this Act.”
It adds: “An authorised officer may, for the purposes of subsection (1), issue orders, including an order for the dispersal of the public meeting, as are reasonable in the circumstances.”
Six other organisations including Human Rights Network Uganda, Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (Deniva), the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (Fida-Uganda), Chapter Four, Butambala MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi and the retired assistant bishop of Kampala, Dr Zac Niringiye, had in 2013, gone to court, challenging the constitutionality of POMA.
The group had asked court to declare the law inconsistent with the 1995 Constitution and in contravention of Uganda’s international legal obligations.
However, it remains to be seen if the scrapping of a section of the Act renders the rest useless.