The Uganda Law Society has asked Government to handle with care, the proposed constitutional amendments to limit the right to bail.
In her independence day Message, Pheona Wall, the ULS President noted that since the Constitution is very clear the bail is a fundamental human right, a person should only lose it after being convicted by a competent court of law.
“While interpreting the constitutional provisions on bail, Justice Lugayiziobserved in the case of Lahan Yahaya V Uganda that “where court is considering whether one has a constitutional right to bail, since one is to be presumed innocent untilp roven guilty, it would necessarily follow that any court which denies an accused person bail would be acting unconstitutionally,” Mrs Wall said.
“We should also err on the side of caution because our prison capacity is already at over 300% meaning that we would be doing a great injustice to the taxpayer who shoulders a 2m shilling burden for every prisoner annually.”
Wall advised that the ills which government is trying to address by removing bail can only be solved by dealing with the systemic challenges in the criminal justice ecosystem.
“Timely investigations and prosecution and the unconditional release of prisoners who have overstayed the mandatory remand period would help solve the problems at hand.”
“We therefore call on the Police,DPP and Prisons to institute reforms in their processes and systems thatwill ensure alignment with the expectations of the law, and the aspirations of the Ugandan people as regards access to justice, a fair and paddy trail and the presumption of innocence.”
She promised on behalf of ULS to continue Advocating for rule of law in the country until when people are subjected and protected by the law.
For the first few weeks the Executive and the Judiciary have been quoted having disagreement on the issue of bail.
During his address to Judicial officers at the Benedicto Kiwanuka Memorial Lecture, President Yoweri Museveni vowed to use both political and Legislative means to have the issue addressed as soon as possible.
Museveni faults the judges for granting bail to capital offenders and sending them back to the public, which he says is “provocative.”