MBALE – President Museveni has proposed amendment of the Constitution to deny bail application for capital offence suspects.
The proposed ban is being pushed by Mr Museveni who has in the past months criticized the granting of bail to persons accused of capital offences pending determination of their cases.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja while speaking during the Kampala Archdiocesan day celebrations at Lubaga Cathedral 1 November also asked religious leaders and other Ugandans to support President Museveni’s proposal to deny bail for people accused of capital offenses.
President Museveni has on several occasions renewed his unpopular debate on scrapping of bail in which he seeks to make it hard for judges to release suspects of capital offenses on bail before at least serving 180 days of remand.
According to Museveni granting bail is a provocation which will not be accepted and he gave examples of people who were killed by mob justice in Arua and in Gomba, saying that when courts give bail on capital offenses, societies become hopeless and start killing people who are charged with such crimes.
For quite some time there has been a wide outcry about the way the president is making his demands, wants them supported and amended by parliament before drafting them into law.
He has proposed the amendment to Article 23(6) (b) of the Constitution to provide that a person accused of committing an offence tri-able by both the High Court and subordinate courts, shall not be granted bail until after 180 days or trial commencement, or when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) discontinues proceedings.
Also proposed is an amendment to Article 23 (4) (b) and Section 25 of the Police Act, which requires a suspect to be released on police bond if not charged in court within 48 hours, to qualify the period as “forty-eight business hours”.
In his proposals President Museveni does not weigh the stiff bail conditions that are embedded in his proposal because they will not only see miscarriage of justice by our ‘learned friends’ but also gross abuse of the rights of the suspects.
Many a Ugandan are forced to wonder whether it is the same government that has always said that it shall abide by the constitution, respect the rule of law, uphold democracy and be a pro-people government.
This is the time to ask whether our leaders have knowledge of the constitutional provision of bail.
There could be people out there who are awash with excitement and are proclaiming on hilltops that government is right; “yes, the stiff bail conditions should be upheld.”
Only that, these are so short sighted to know that granting of bail is an automatic human right as provided for in the constitution and are unable to think that the same law could catch up with them in the near future.
When our ‘dear” politicians are serving a present system, they will pronounce anything to peddle selfish political interests without peering into the future to see what Uganda is likely to be after the present.
In traditional Bugisu society [Sironko] there was a parish chief called Anatoli Muloli who decreed that anybody who was arrested stealing or suspected to have stolen should be killed on spot.
Whereas his intention was to scare off the would be thieves, Mr. Muloli did not peer into the future to know that every human being is a potential suspect until he was arrested himself and stoned to death by a mob amidst pleas.
The events that befell the Iraq leader, late Saddam Hussein have a lot of lessons for our leaders to draw from. When late Saddam Hussein was putting up the hangman’s noose, it was meant for his victims little did he know that he would become a victim himself.
Everything has a beginning and an end, systems have reigned in this country and gone without those who are so loyal to them suspecting.
Our “dear” leaders of today will go and this law can easily catch up with them. Why? What goes around comes around.
The Bible and Christian life has one lesson for you leaders out there:
Judge not that you may not be judged; all of us have fallen short of the glory of God; Do to others what you would like them to do to you. I may not remember the actual verses but many a Christian will.
If you are agitating for stiffer bail terms and patronizing over the same, then you have missed a point and are failing to analyse the more serious issues embedded in our ‘dirty’ politics in Uganda.
Museveni whose leadership has made it possible for several murderers, robbers or to use his own words ‘Terrorists’ to be forgiven under the amnesty law; for him to propose against the constitutional bail right reflects that he is not the Museveni we had in 1986.
One old teacher of Journalism once remarked; ” Sometimes the mouth speaks what the heart is not speaking,” Our leaders, when you refer to NRM as a democratic, pro-people, law abiding and forgiving government, Is it your mouth that speaketh or thy hearth?
Why does government lose the little faith ‘we the peasants’ still have in it or this is the way things have been going on behind our backs? Does government live up to its word or as peasants; we are just but historical French bourbons that have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing?
Our leaders should rather recall with some vision by peering into the future that even if they used full potential, military might and manipulation to stay, time will call them off the political stage and they will be brought before the same law and paid in the same currency.
What I am I saying; to propose denial of bail to suspected murderers ‘terrorists’, the corrupt, treason, rioters in order to squeeze other the opposition, government is merely setting a trap for an enemy today but at the same time rendering itself a potential victim of the same trap in the near future.
Yes if media reports that Cabinet ministers have approved criminal justice reforms, among them amendments to the 1995 Constitution and the Police Act, to deny suspects on capital offences bail or police are true, then our country has trouble in the waiting.
It is key that our president should now concentrate on the promotion of national reconciliation that can only occur when individuals and groups are deeply committed to national solidarity and are willing to treat offenders or enemies as people entitled to human dignity.
And I want to add that forgiveness is powerful because it combines backward-looking accountability and forward-looking reconciliation.
Mr Museveni I beg you to drop the proposal to amend the Constitution and deny bail to suspected murderers in order to give way to forgiveness and political reconciliation in our nation.
For then this will reduce rumination and associated depression, anxiety, anger, thoughts of avenging, obsessive and compulsive cognition and even psychosomatic illness.
David Mafabi is a veteran journalist and a senior writer at PML Daily