KAMPALA - The Constitutional Court has accepted Dr Kizza Besigye's request to reinstate a petition challenging a terrorism law.
On October 5, justices of the Constitutional Court dismissed Besigye's push, on the premise that he had missed a crucial engagement.
The panel of justices concluded that both his absence and that of his lawyer implied disinterest.
However, the same justices led by Frederick Egonda-Ntende, Thursday (October 22, 2020) reinstated Besigye's case and directed the parties to file written submissions. The justices said the parties will be notified of the date of the judgment.
The other panelists are Justices Cheborion Barishaki, Elizabeth Musoke, Irene Mulyagonja, and Muzamiru Kibeedi.
Besigye, who was present in court was represented by lawyers Ernest Kalibbala and Fredrick Mpanga while Jimmy Odoi was for the state.
Besigye had pleaded with the court to reinstate the petition on October 13, 2020.
In a bid to revive the case, Besigye through his lawyers submitted that the actual engagement was scheduled for October 26 and not October 5.
His lawyer Kalibbala swore an affidavit, saying there is documentary proof that the case road map indicates October 26 as the scheduled date of engagement.
"Neither the petitioner nor counsel for the petitioner were aware of the hearing date of 5th October 2020 because Constitutional Petition Number 52 of 2011 was fixed for hearing on 26th October 2020 and not 5th October 2020," states Kalibbala.
On October 5, the four-time presidential candidate was meant to buttress his complaint about the terrorism laws.
The court was informed that Besigye and his lawyer had been furnished with the mandatory appearance summons but did not turn up in court.
The justices noted that evidence on file showed Besigye's lawyer, Mpanga, had been notified, with an affidavit of service.
Crux of the matter
In the case lodged at the court in 2011, Besigye petitioned against the Attorney General (AG), protesting the legality of Section 26 of Uganda's Penal Code Act.
He contends that the provision conflicted with clauses in the supreme law; the Constitution, as stipulated in Articles 23, 28, 29, and 44.
Section 26 of the Penal Code Act elaborates on the crime of terrorism, its constituents, and the penalty in event of a conviction, which is life imprisonment.
Besigye asserts that the Penal Code Act provision curtails the inalienable Constitutional rights of movement, assembly, religion, association, and expression.
He argues that the terrorism law also dampened the conducive atmosphere to ensure a fair hearing.