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Judiciary Protests On Kayanja
THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has protested the shooting on sight of suspected robbers by security agencies.
By Felix Osike and Okello jabweliTHE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has protested the shooting on sight of suspected robbers by security agencies. The commission has also asked the Government not to appoint judges on commissions of inquiry. Remmy Kasule, a JSC member, cited Lady Justice Julia Ssebutinde, who has handled inquiries into the Police, the UPDF and now URA.He said deploying judges to such commissions distracted them from their judicial work.JSC chairperson Lady Justice Christine Kitumba, commissioners Justice Arthur Oder, Sam Baingana, Remmy Kasule, John Kiwuuwa, Prof. Nsereko Gyagenda, John Ntimba and Permanent Secretary Stephen Nabeta yesterday, appeared before the legal parliamentary committee to defend their 2002/2003 budget proposals.The commissioners were responding to a question from Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri) on the recent killings of suspected robbers by security agencies. President Yoweri Museveni said recently he had given a go-ahead to security agencies to hunt for the city robbers.The crackdown, code- named, Operation Wembley, is being commanded by the deputy director of the Internal Security Organisation, Col. Elly Kayanja. Over 20 suspected gangsters have been killed since the operation began last month.Kitumba condemned â€œthe extra-judicial killingâ€ of suspected robbers. â€œWe donâ€™t support that at all. We hope the security organisations will respect the law and bring the suspects to court so that they donâ€™t kill evidence. We should respect the rule of law,â€ she said.Oder said the principle of natural justice, that a person is presumed innocent until proved guilty, must prevail. Kasule said, â€œThe rule of law demands that taking away of oneâ€™s life, never mind whether such a person is a robber or not, must be after the due process of the law. This must not be compromised.â€ He said, â€œTo hear people being kept in safe houses and seeing people being shot and bundled in vehicles is getting into chaos. We tend to forget that the question of taking oneâ€™s life must be after the due process of the law.â€Kasule said shooting robbers on sight was a breach of Article 22 of the 1995 Constitution. Article 22 says, â€œNo person shall be deprived of life intentionally except in execution of a sentence passed in a fair trial by a court of competent jurisdiction in respect of a criminal offence.â€â€œWe are looking forward to seeing MPs questioning organs of the State as to why these things are happening,â€ he said.He said a vacuum had been created at the High Court as a result of hiring judges to head judicial commissions of inquiries. â€œThe staffing of the bench has been affected so much. Let the judges do their professional work at the bench. Disruptions are too much.â€ Fred Ruhindi (Nakawa) said ad hoc commissions, like the Sebutindeâ€™s, were too expensive to maintain. He said such investigations could be handled by the Inspector General of Government (IGG), if strengthened.He said a resolution by the JSC had been sent to Parliament, requesting for an increase in the number of judges in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and the High Court. â€œThere is an acute shortage of justices. We request this matter to be addressed,â€ he said.Ruhindi said the independence of the judiciary must not be compromised. â€œParliament should defend the independence of the Judiciary. The moment that independence goes, that will be the disappearance of the rule of law,â€ he said.The commissioners also reacted to Museveniâ€™s criticism of the Judiciary. Wagonda Muguli (Buikwe north) had said Museveniâ€™s statements about the poor performance of the Judiciary and judges releasing suspects was of great concern.Kasule said releasing suspects on bail was a judicial decision. He said the State fails to submit concrete reasons why the accused must not be released on bail. He called upon the Government to facilitate its investigators to avoid losing many cases in court. Ntimba and Nabeta said the commissionâ€™s work had been hampered by inadequate funding. Ntimba said the Government had failed to pay his accumulated mileage arrears amounting to over sh12m. The commissioners said they would seek the Attorney Generalâ€™s opinion on whether a constitutional amendment can be effected to make them permanent staff. Kitumba dispelled rumours that the judges had been summoned by Museveni to discuss their past judgements. â€œThe meeting is not to explain judgements at all but on infrastructure in the Judiciary. Judges do not rely on political colours but evidence when making judgements,â€ she said. While agreeing that there is corruption in Judiciary, Kitumba said nobody had brought concrete evidence against any of the officials.Kasule said a law was being formulated to discipline errant court brokers.Ends