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TO AMMEND OR NOT TO AMMEND THE UGANDAN CONSTITUTION; ISSUES RAISED BY VARIOUS PROPONETS.

Posted On: 02 Apr 2015

The cabinet of Uganda is considering amending the 1995 Constitution. A cabinet subcommittee chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. Amama Mbabazi is working on the proposed amendments which include; providing for an Independent Electoral Commission, limiting the age of the Electoral Commissioners, to stipulate grounds for recalling Members of Parliament (MPs), to establish a Salaries Commission and; to give more statutory powers to the President. There is also a proposal that parliament establishes a special court to hear cases related to  terrorism. The government also seeks to  introduce  a new article  specifying  grounds of refusal  to approve a presidential nominee  ‘to emphasize that  unless  a nominee  is not qualified the president  should be trusted  to make the right  judgment’’  

These amendment proposals are brought to table by the Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC), Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda( CCEDU), The National  Consultative Forum(NCF) and findings of best practices study tour of Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana by various political parties.  

Since 1990, 38 African constitutions have been rewritten and 8 involved major revisions. Uganda rewrote its Constitution in 1995. Many of the constitutional changes witnessed throughout Africa; Uganda in particular, have to do with individual rights and  liberties, rights of traditional  authorities , protection of customary rights, land issues  and in the long run having a great impact on the Human Rights Defenders (HRDS). The Constitution of Uganda was last amended in 2005 by Constitution (Amendment) No.2 Act, 2005 .This 2005 amendment was intended to provide for Kampala as the capital city of Uganda, the districts of Uganda; to provide that subject to the existence of regional governments the system of local government in Uganda shall be based on a district as a unit; to provide for the creation of regional governments as the highest political authority in the region with political, legislative, executive, administrative and cultural functions 

 
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  • By: sckawooya
    Parliament’s role in promoting Constitutionalism: Constitutionalism is the idea that a government can and should be limited in its powers by a fundamental law or set of laws, beyond the reach of an individual government to amend them; whose authority depends on its observing of these limitations. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 as amended provides for a system of checks and balances amongst the 3 arms of government: Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. These three arms of government are each charged with specific duties. The Executive is charged with the duty to implement and maintain the Constitution and laws made under the Constitution; the Legislature is charged with the duty of formulating laws for the Country, which should be in conformity with the Constitution. Parliament is also charged with the duty to protect the Constitution and promote the democratic governance of Uganda; the Judiciary is the justice dispensing arm of government. Parliament is the legislative, elected body of government tasked with passing laws of Uganda that provide for good governance and playing the oversight role of the other arms of government. Parliament is thus the representation of the people. Parliament is principally charged with 2 roles in promoting constitutionalism. These have been enshrined in the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda; protecting the Constitution and holding the Executive accountable. Protecting the Constitution In order to appreciate this duty imposed on Parliament, Uganda’s history with regard to the constitutions had and the making of the 1995 Constitution should be noted. Benjamin J. Odoki, in his essay, “The Challenges of Constitution-making and Implementation in Uganda” he noted that the making of a new constitution in Uganda demonstrated the desire of the people to fundamentally change their system of governance into a truly democratic one. Further that the process was thus a major step towards the democratization of the country which had experienced nearly thirty years of oppression, tyranny and exploitation. The history of Uganda’s constitutionalism road is that up until 1995, Uganda had had 3 constitutions namely: 1962, 1966 and 1967 Constitutions. It should be noted that in making of these constitutions, massive consultations of the citizens was not done by the responsible authorities. They had simply been enacted, and handed down to be implemented. It could thus be argued that the views of the people had not been reflected in the Constitutions. Thus, in 1988, the Uganda Constitution Commission was established and it spearheaded the task of making the Constitution that was promulgated in 1995 by the Constituent assembly. The making of the Constitution was distinctly characterized by popular participation by the people which was achieved through wide consultation and national public debate. The Constitution under Article 79 lays down the functions of Parliament which are to make laws and protect the constitution and promote democratic governance of Uganda. The duty of protecting the constitution would among others include preserving the spirit of the constitution that way it is not amended or altered veering off the purpose of the people. Since 1995, the constitution has been amended a number of times; including September and December 2005. The amendments have among others been for the creation of new districts, new offices, creation of special courts to handle offences relating to corruption, remove the limits on the tenure of office of the President. The role of parliament in protecting the constitution must be to vote either for or against an amendment of the constitution whilst being mindful of the Uganda’s history. Parliament should also be mindful of the fact that the constitution that was promulgated in 1995 was one that reflected the views of the people who had lived through the oppression and tyranny that characterizes our past as a nation. Parliament is further urged to not only look at the present and past but also the future. Ideally, the test should be that if an amendment years down the road can easily lead to oppression or tyranny stands to be exploited to the detriment of Uganda and her citizens, that amendment should not be allowed. As earlier noted, Constitutionalism is about ensuring that governance is done in accordance with the law and not the whim of the government of the day. Similarly, the constitution should not be easily and frequently amended to suit the needs of the government of the day. And this is what in principle the duty of protecting the constitution is all about. Holding the Executive accountable As noted earlier, each arm of government has certain controls over the other 2 arms. For Parliament, it principally has the duty of holding the Executive or the state accountable for all decisions that it makes as well as its actions. This is provided for under the national objective I which makes it clear that the President has to report to Parliament and the nation all steps taken to ensure the realization of the national objectives and directive principles of state policy. The goal of holding the Executive accountable is such that there is difficulty in the State abusing the power that it is given by law. Parliament, in fulfilling this duty has held weekly plenary sessions in which the Prime Minister is tasked to explain state actions of lack thereof on issues, and through the parliamentary committee sessions, has held the state accountable. The expectation for the 10th Parliament is that it does not take the trend of the 9th Parliament, which during its first year was seen to be assertive and its actions promoting constitutionalism and over the course of time became less active with the fire unfortunately dying out. Members of Parliament should at all times be mindful of Parliament’s role in promoting constitutionalism and in all decisions have them at the forefront as they are the key in protecting Uganda from ever experiencing the past that we have worked so hard to distance ourselves from.

  • By: jose
    UN expert hails role of equality bodies and action plans in combating racism: NEW YORK / GENEVA (2 November 2016) – States should maximize the use of specialized equality bodies and national action plans to tackle racism and xenophobia, a United Nations human rights expert has said. Using these tools was key to identifying the causes and shaping new policies, said the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Mutuma Ruteere. “National specialized bodies and national action plans address the root causes of discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, education, the justice system, law enforcement and access to different goods and services,” Mr. Ruteree said, presenting a report* to the UN General Assembly. “They also drive change in State and private organizations Read the Special Rapporteur’s report: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/71/325

  • By: mutawai
    Right to be employed: Dr Stella Nyanzi OF MISR undressed after she was locked out of her office. As human rights defenders how do we take this issue on and advise? We need to take on peace and conflict resolution as a focus area because not all situations require extreme measures.

  • By: kjose
    HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS SUBMIT JOINT REPORTS TO THE 26TH SESSION OF UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW WORKING: The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aimed at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States. Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every 4.5 years. 42 States are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to 14 States each. These three sessions are usually held in January/February, May/June and October/November. The result of each review is reflected in an “outcome report” listing the recommendations the State under review (SuR) will have to implement before the next review. The UPR is a full-circle process comprised of 3 key stages: 1) Review of the human rights situation of the SuR; 2) Implementation between two reviews (4.5 years) by the SuR of the recommendations received and the voluntary pledges made; 3) Reporting at the next review on the implementation of those recommendations and pledges and on the human rights situation in the country since the previous review. The process provides for the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and national human rights institutions (NHRIs). Civil society actors and NHRIs can submit information which can be added to the “other stakeholders” report to be considered during the review. For the 26th Session of the UPR Working Group, Civil society actors submitted joint reports for the UPRs of Uganda. https://www.defenddefenders.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/NCHRD-U-UPR-Uganda-Cluster-Report-2016.pdf

  • By: Fapidi
    fapidi: Hi,am Tumwebaze Alfred of Foundation on Advocacy for People's Intergrity and Disadvantaged Individuals {Fapidi} in need of your guidance,seminar sponsoring and training , situated in Ibanda north.my mail is tumwebazesalfred@gmail.com.

  • By: hrcug
    The Anna Lindh lecture 2014: Ms Margaret Sekaggya guest speaker at the Anna Lindh lecture 2014 organized by @lunduniversity and @RWallenbergInst http://bit.ly/1w8qgsO

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