New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Muslims Push for Khadi Courts Bill

Muslims have asked Parliament to ensure that the Khadi Courts Bill is passed as soon as possible, a move aimed at reducing the case backlog in secular courts.

Jaffer Sseganda,the president of the Muslim Council for justice and law, said many muslims are comfortable having their cases handled in Khadi courts instead of the secular ones.

Sseganda made the remarks recently during the launch of a baseline survey report on informal Muslim justice centres at hotel Africana in Kampala.

The report highlighted the administration challenges, response to informal courts and what should be done to improve their services.

Article 129(1)(d) of the Constitution provides that the judicial power of Uganda shall be exercised by the courts of judicature, which shall comprise the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and subordinate courts such as Parliament.

The Constitution adds that these courts may, by law, establish khadi courts to handle marriage as well as cases of divorce, inheritance of property and guardianship.

Sheikh Abbas Kakungulu said: "Marriage issues in Islam cannot be compared to those of any other faith. This Bill will help us have peace in our homes."

He added that if the Bill is passed and does not align with the doctrines of Islam, it will be rejected.

Lilianne Kiwanuka, a senior legal officer at the Uganda law Reform Commission, stressed that the Bill will be presented to Cabinet soon.

She explained that the Bill will outline the administration of Khadi courts and their jurisdiction.

"The Khadi courts will be run according to the Sharia law, but supervised by the High Court. Those who are not satisfied with their judgments will be at liberty to appeal in the High Court," Kiwanuka said.

She added that officials prevailing over the Khadi courts will be sensitised on which cases to handle and those to refer to the secular courts. Kiwanuka cited defilement and rape cases.

She advised that if Muslims feel they are not comfortable with certain clauses in the Bill, they will have to wait until it comes to parliament before they can give their views.

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