High Court in Kampala has dismissed an application filed by a retired Uganda People’s Defense Forces – UPDF soldier who sued government demanding pension and gratuity of over Shillings 38 million.
Tom Asiu retired soldiers number RA/153458 PTE sued government in 2020 demanding pension of shillings 20 million, gratuity of over shillings 18.6 million, unpaid house allowances worth shillings 14.4 million and shillings 9.3 million in lieu of untaken leave for 3 years of full military service.
Asiu joined the UPDF in 1999 and served in the 79th Battalion of the UPDF until he was retired in 2003 on account of reduction in forces. He says that he actively participated in the military operations of the UPDF against the Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA between the years 1999 and 2003 and in the process, he sustained serious injuries including a serious wound on his head caused by a bomb fragment that hit his head. The bomb fragment is still stuck in his head, he says.
Asiu says that when he was retired, he wrote several demand letters to the UPDF and the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs demanding for his full retirement benefits but he did not receive any reply, making him stressed.
Through M/s United Advocates, Asiu went to court seeking a declaration that the actions of the UPDF and the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs to retire him and fail or refuse to pay his full retirement benefits was unfair, unconstitutional and illegal.He also sought an order that he be paid all retirement benefits.
In defense, government argued that the application is defective since it was filed after a period of 10 years. Section 19(1) of the Human Rights (Enforcement) Act provides that actions for enforcement of human rights shall be instituted within 10 years of the occurrence of the human rights violation.
Government further argued that the application wasn’t one for enforcement of human rights but rather a claim for payment of compensation and retirement benefits arising out of the applicant’s employment. Therefore, that the application applied to the Civil Procedure (Limitation) Act which also ought to have been filed within 3 years. Government hence asked court to dismiss the application.
In his judgement, Justice Musa Ssekaana of the Civil Division of High Court concurred with government arguing that the application was filed out of time.
Asiu had told court that he became unconscious as a result of the bomb fragments in his head and he has been getting periodic and momentous brain and body unconsciousness rendering him of unsound mind. He said that he only recovered and gained full consciousness and sound mind on 02/09/2019.
But the justice noted that the applicant had to show court why he was unable to bring his application for enforcement of human rights within 10 years.
“This is “a ‘naked’ statement without any clothing of documentary evidence from any hospital or medical experts to confirm this strong statement and status which has affected the applicant for over 15 years,” said Justice Ssekaana, adding that the statement would appear to be one from an ingenious advocate who tried to find a reason why he should come to court as belated as he did.
He further found that the applicant didn’t show how his rights were violated and the orders that are being sought are clearly employment remedies arising out of his employment and discharge from the army.
He dismissed the application with costs.