30 July 2009

Uganda: Supreme Court Gets New Judges

Kampala — The Supreme Court could soon begin clearing a backlog of constitutional appeals accumulated due to lack of coram after President Museveni yesterday named three eminent lawyers to the country's highest appellate court.

Mr Museveni has tapped former Inspector General of Government, Mr Jotham Tumwesigye; Dr Esther Mayambala Kisaakye, a lecturer at Makerere University Law School and elevated Appeal Court Judge Christine Kitumba as the new Supreme Court judges.

"It's an honour to serve in that capacity and I am going to do my best as I have always done," Mr Tumwesigye said, when Daily Monitor broke the story of his appointment to him last evening.

Dr Kisaakye was reported to be in the US when we sought her comment last evening. State House announced the long-awaited appointments yesterday afternoon, a week after Conservative Party leader John Ken Lukyamuzi filed a petition at the Court of Appeal, seeking to compel President Museveni to expedite appointment of judges to the under-manned court.

Who are they?

Jotham Tumwesigye, 61

He holds a Law degree from Makerere University (1974) and a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre.

After graduation, Mr Tumwesigye served the Ministry of Justice for five years, leaving as a Senior State Attorney.

The political circumstances of the time forced him to flee into exile from 1981-86, where he lived in Kenya, teaching at Kenya Institute of Administration; a subsidiary of the Mombasa-based Government Training College.

He returned to Uganda in 1986 after the ruling NRM government took power, upon which he was handpicked as the Director for Legal Affairs at the now defunct NRM Secretariat. Mr Tumwesigye was later to serve on the Justice Odoki-led Constitutional Review Commission that drafted the now amended 1995 Constitution.

His full thrust in the public gallery was when President Museveni appointed him the Inspector General of Government, replacing Mr Augustine Ruzindana. Mr Tumwesigye worked as an IGG from 1996-2004 after which he later joined private legal practice. He was later appointed as the board chairman for the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration until his appointment to the Supreme Court yesterday.

Esther Mayambala Kisaakye

Ms Esther Mayambala Kisaakye, an eminent law scholar and lecturer at Makerere University, may not be a common name among the Ugandan public but she has been playing a behind-the-scenes legal advisory role to the President and Vice President.

She holds a Masters of Law (LLM) degree from the Washington-based Georgetown University Law Centre in the US after graduating from Makerere University and the Law Development Centre.

Ms Kisaakye, currently pursuing a PhD at the American University - Washington College of Law in the US, lectures at the Human Rights Peace Center, Makerere University Law School.

In the past 23 years, she has devoted her professional time to highlight issues of human rights, women's rights, family law, health law and HIV/AIDS and the law.

She was a Board Member of the Uganda Aids Commission, FIDA-Uganda, the Uganda Law Society and the Uganda Network on Law, Ethics & HIV/AIDS. She has also served as a consultant to several UN agencies and human rights NGOs in Uganda and internationally.

Christine Kitumba

Lady Justice Christine Kitumba is presently one of the eight Judges of the Court of Appeal. She is a respected name in Uganda's legal fraternity, having risen to the Bench through the rigours of private legal practice where she was a partner in the Kitumba & Binaisa Co. Advocates law firm.

She reportedly graduated with a Law degree from Makerere University before picking up a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in Kampala. Ms Kitumba was later to lecture at her Alma marter - LDC.

She previously served as a member of the Judicial Service Commission, the independent body responsible for disciplining and determining the welfare of Judicial staff.

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