14 February 2018

Uganda: Appointed Judges to Be Vetted Today

Parliament — The Appointments Committee of Parliament, is today expected to start the vetting exercise of judges who were recently appointed to new positions.

Last week, President Museveni appointed four and 10 judges to the Court of Appeal and the High Court respectively.

Court of Appeal nominees include Justice Christopher Madrama, Justice Stephen Musota, Justice Percy Tuhaise and Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi.

Mr Paul Gadenya, Ms Joyce Kavuma, Ms Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya, Mr Alex Ajiji, Mr Tadeo Asiimwe and Mr Emmanuel Baguma were appointed to the High Court.

Others are Mr Musa Sekaana, Mr Richard Wabwire, Ms Jane Abodo, and Ms Cornelia Sabiiti.

These will appear before the committee chaired by the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to defend their appointment.

Vetting process

The vetting process that ends on Thursday comes amidst contentions, against three of the appointments, on grounds of lacking minimum [ethical] standards.

Mr Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka, a city lawyer petitioned Parliament, seeking to block the approval of Justices¬¬ Musota, Madrama and Alex Macky, citing misconduct and discrimination among others.

Mr Mabirizi also states that since the trio are still under investigation by the Judicial Service Commision, their elevation to a superior temple of justice is unwelcome for pursuers of justice.

However, the Commission's chairperson, Justice Benjamin Isingoma Kabiito, told Daily Monitor yesterday that judicial officers, just like any Ugandans, are presumed innocent until proven guilty as mandated by the Constitution.

"The fact that a complaint has been filed against a judicial officer does not mean that they are guilty; they have to be given a fair hearing, actually both parties are to be given a hearing and have the evidence tested, otherwise, the complaint remains a mere allegation," he said.

Justice Kabiito confirmed that there were certain complaints raised but these, he said, would not prevent anyone from being appointed.

"As a Commission, we receive all complaints from the public against judicial officers, we investigate and make recommendations," he said.

"By the very nature of their judicial work, where one party must emerge with the fruits of litigation, the other party that is aggrieved may plan to get at a judge maliciously by making up complaints," he added.

Regarding the delayed disposal of the investigation, the chairperson said that the solution is to empower the Commission to render its services quickly.

Mr Chris Obore, the Parliament director of Communications and Public Affairs, said Mr Mabirizi's complaints will be addressed during the vetting exercise.

"The Speaker will deal with all the petitions based on their merits; remember the Speaker herself is a lawyer well-grounded on examination of evidence," Mr Obore said.

Basing on its assessment, the Appointments Committee will submit a report to the appointing authority who is the President.


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