New Vision (Kampala)

27 February 2013

Uganda: CSOS Back President On 'No Bail for the Corrupt'

Civil Society Organizations (CSO) in Uganda have supported President Yoweri Museveni's proposal to deny court bail to people who are charged with corruption in courts of law.

They said that there is a public outcry against corruption and most of the corrupt officials, who steal the huge sums of money, are granted bail because they can afford to bribe the judiciary.

"The corrupt officials can afford to hire competent lawyers who can look for ways of having courts of law granting them bail, while the poor ones can't afford," Patrick Tumwebaze , the executive director Uganda Debt Network , who led the team, said

"We recommend that scandals that involve grand corruption like hefty loss of public resources not be considered for fulfillment of bail," he argued.

The CSOs met MPs who are drafting the Amendments of the Anti- corruption Bill 2012 at Parliament this week.

'Constrained'

In 2009, President Yoweri Museveni proposed a change of the law to deny bail to suspects charged with corruption, terrorism, treason and defilement in the first 180 days on remand.

Museveni said that the law would remove the discretionary powers of the judges to grant bail to suspects for certain crime categories.

If somebody is accused of corruption and in one day he walks out after he has been granted bail, the statesman argued that that is one of the roots of desperation among the unhappy people in te public domain who end up taking the law in their hands through incidents like mob justice.

"Bail for certain categories must be constrained," Museveni said.

The civil society, under their umbrella that includes the Uganda Debt network, Uganda National NGO Forum, Transparency International Uganda, Uganda Joint Christian Council, Uganda Youths Network, Deniva, appeared before MPs to give in their contribution to the amendment of the Anti- corruption Bill 2012.

The MPs who proposed and moved a Private Member's Bill for the Amendments of the Anti- corruption Bill 2012 are Makindye East MP John Ssimbwa, Patrick Nsanja, (Ntenjeru South) and James Kabajo (Kiboga East).

The proposed Anti-corruption Amendment Bill 2012 seeks to amend certain provisions of the Anti-corruption Act 2009 to incorporate a new legal framework aimed at the recovery of the benefits derived from corruption.

Government last January cleared the Anti-corruption Amendment Bill 2012 which seeks to confiscate the wealth and benefits of corrupt officials arising out of corruption.

Civil society also wants Parliament to expedite passing the "Anti -Money Laundering law" to curb the increasing cases of people who keep embezzled funds in foreign accounts.

The Anti-corruption Amendment Bill 2012 was cleared by finance minister Maria Kiwanuka after her ministry accepted to issue a certificate of financial implication to finance the bill's implementation after it has been given a nod by the president.

It will also seek to empower court to continue with proceedings against a dead person charged with corruption. In this case the relatives or beneficiaries of the estate of the deceased defendant will be the ones in court.

The Bill also provides procedures of applying for restraining and charging orders to ensure that a person under investigation for such offences is stopped from disposing property that he/she owns or controls until the case is concluded in order to recover the benefits accrued or the loss incurred.

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