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Attorney General Appeals Constitutional Court Ruling Against Court Martial

The Attorney General has filed a notice of appeal intending to challenge the Constitutional Court ruling against the powers of the Court Martial.

Last week, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Court Martial has no powers to try civilians.

In a majority ruling of three justices against two, the court ruled that although the Court Martial is a competent court under the 1995 Constitution, its powers are only limited to serving officers of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces.

The court’s ruling follows a 2016 petition by the then Nakawa Member of Parliament Michael Kabaziguruka challenging his trial in the General Court Martial. Kabaziguruka was accused of being found with firearms a preserve of armed forces. It was said then that he intended to use them to overthrow a democratically elected government of Uganda. Kabaziguruka who was arrested and detained for several months denied the charges which he called politically motivated.

Justices Kenneth Kakuru, Remmy Kasule and Hellen Obura argued that the UPDF Act was never intended to be an Act of general application. Kakuru specifically said that it is a statute of a special and limited application whose power only relates to UPDF alone.

The court also ruled that all those persons not subject to military law and are currently being tried before any military court, their cases should be transferred to civil courts under the direction of the Director of Public Prosecutions within 14 days from the date of the judgment.

In a notice filed by the State Attorneys in the Attorney General’s chambers, the government is dissatisfied with the judgement of the court delivered on July 1st 2021 intends to appeal against the part of it.

The notice which has been received before the Constitutional Court, the Attorney General’s chambers argues that it is intended to serve copies to lawyers from Lukwago and Company Advocates their intended decision to appeal.

“Take notice that the Judgment of this Honourable Court delivered on the 1st July 2021 intends to appeal to the Supreme Court of Uganda against part of the judgement. Briefly, some of the proposed grounds of appeal are as hereunder”, reads the two paged notice in part.

The Attorney General lists six proposed grounds and the key of them is that the learned Justices of the Constitutional Court erred in law and in determining that the General Court Martial was only competent and its jurisdiction was only limited to trying military discipline offences.

“The learned majority justices of the Constitutional Court erred in law in finding that the persons subject to military law cannot be charged before the General Court Martial under any other enactment other than that UPDF Act”, adds the notice.

They also argue that the Justices erred in law in determining that charging and arraigning the Petitioner before the General Court Martial was inconsistent with Article 28 Clause one which talks about the right to a fair hearing.

“The learned majority e of the Constitutional Court erred in law in determining that the General Court Martial is not impartial or independent and is inconsistent with Article 28(1) of the Constitution.

The notice from the Attorney General’s chambers signed by the Director in charge of Civil Litigation Martin Mwambutsya and is yet to be received by lawyers Lukwago and Company Advocates.

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