Museveni, NRM MPs discuss the ban on bail for capital offenses

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President Museveni with NRM MPs (Courtesy photo)

The ruling National Resistance Movement -NRM Parliamentary Caucus has resolved to carry out a two-week consultation on President Yoweri Museveni’s proposed ban of bail for capital offense suspects.

Museveni on Tuesday addressed the NRM legislators at Kololo Independence Grounds and according to the Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa, they had a candid discussion about the matter and they agreed to carry out further consultations about it.

He noted that the President informed the MPs that their meeting was meant for consultation purposes on granting of bail. 

Tayebwa said that they are to meet the President again after two weeks and come up with a final decision on the matter.

President Museveni has in the past criticized the provision of bail to suspected capital offenders and on Monday, he clashed with Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo on the issue of granting bail to persons accused of capital offenses pending determination of their cases.

This occurred at the 4th Annual Memorial Lecture for the slain former Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka held at the Judiciary Headquarters in Kampala where Museveni was the Chief Guest and Owiny-Dollo the host. It was organised under the theme “Administration of Justice in Uganda through the years”.

At the event, the Chief Justice said bail is a constitutional right that is supposed to be either granted or denied upon the discretion of the presiding judicial officer who should also exercise that discretion judiciously.  

Owiny-Dollo said a judicial officer cannot wake up from the good or wrong side of the bed and decide whether to grant or deny bail to an accused person because it’s a constitutional right the officer has to grant upon considering a number of circumstances for instance if one will abscond from trial or not among others.  

The Chief Justice added that however, he has heard President Museveni on a number of occasions having a different view on the right to bail, saying that the judicial officers should remember the oath they took to dispense justice without fear or favor and independently.  

But Museveni said that the concept of dispensing justice has to be harmonized, challenging the judicial officers to go and read the Constitutional Commission proceedings where he says the majority of the people of Uganda didn’t want bail for capital offenses. But the former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki who headed the Commission left it to the discretion of the judicial officers, which the president is opposed to. 

According to Museveni who spoke in a tough manner on the matter, he said granting bail is a provocation that will not be accepted. 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.

The President has severally in the past criticized the issue of granting bail. On Wednesday last week, while speaking at the swearing-in of new judges at State House Entebbe, Museveni insisted that bail is not a constitutional right. 

Amos Okot, Agago North MP questioned why a suspect would be denied a constitutional right of bail.

William Museveni, the Buwekula South MP said that the Constitution is clear about bail and that there is no need for any amendment.

David Kabanda, the Kasambya County MP said that they subjected the matter to a discussion and that he will go ahead and oppose the proposal by the President.

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