The Uganda Law Society has sued President Museveni over his unlawful ordinances of lockdown and curfew.
In their petition to the constitutional court, the ULS said that president Museveni acted contrary to the constitution of the Republic of Uganda to put up orders that have curtailed People’s freedom of speech, movement, business and which in turn may affect the economy.
On the 18th of March, 2020, in his first address to the nation about the update of COVID19, Museveni issued directives as measures to prevent Coronavirus from affecting more people.
These included Closure of all the Educational Institutions, Suspension of all public, cultural, political and religious gatherings, he also banned the movement of Ugandans to or through category one (I) countries. Suspension of discos, bars, sports, music shows, cinemas and concerts.
Requiring mandatory quarantine of 14 days for all returning Ugandans at their cost. Allowing only small (scientific weddings by the actual stakeholders accompanied by a few people; viii. Burials to take place but with only a few concerned persons and homestead.
Later on the 21st of March, 2020 and 25th of March, 2020 respectively, Museveni issued further measures which included; i. Banning all passengers coming into Uganda by air, rail, land or water; ii. Banning all public passenger transport vehicles e.g. taxis, coasters, buses, passenger trains, tuk-tuks (tri-cycles) and bodaboda etc. iii. Scaling down of the populations in the markets, limiting it to only food vendors while suspending non-food sellers in the markets.
Again on the 30th of March, 2020, Museveni issued additional measures which also led to the lockdown and curfew, such measures included; Prohibiting all people to people movement by everybody including those using their private vehicles, bodabodas, tuk-tuks, etc for 14 days.
Suspension of operations of shopping malls, arcades, hardware shops etc. for 14 days starting with the 1st of April, 2020. Closure of All the non-food shops (stores) except for only food stores, stores selling agricultural products, veterinary products, detergents and pharmaceuticals.
However, according to the petitioners (ULS), all the above directives and many others were illegally announced and directed by the president.
“The actions of H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda declaring a lockdown and a curfew is unconstitutional, illegal and in contravention of Articles 1 (1) & (2), 2(1) & (2), 3(1) & (4) 79(1) & (2), 99 (1), (2) & (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and is not provided for within our laws. (b) That the actions of H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda declaring the lockdown and curfew are in contravention and contrary to Articles 46 (1), 47 (1), Article 48 and Article 110 (1) & (7) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda respectively in as far as it erodes inalienable rights and freedoms,” reads the petition.
They alleged that the impugned lockdown and curfew further limits rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution And Other International Conventions to which Uganda is a state party to include Articles 20(1) & (2), 24,28(1) & (4),42,43, 126 & 249 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda as well as Article 4 (1) & (2)of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 25 (1)&(2)of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 & 11 (1)& (2) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights respectively.
They urge that the actions of Museveni in declaring a lockdown and a curfew is unconstitutional, illegal and in contravention of Articles 29(1) & (2) & 40 (1) (a)& (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda as the same curtails work, movement, associations and practice of the trade.
In his affidavit supporting the petitioners Simon Peter. M. Kinobe the president of the ULS said that the promotion of constitutionalism, rule of law and good governance were aggrieved by the actions of Museveni when he declared a lockdown and a curfew.
“The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda establishes the three independent arms of Government to wit; the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, further stipulating the functions of each arm of Government.
The legislature with legislative powers and the judiciary with adjudicative powers respectively. While the Legislature and the Executive respectively continue to perform their functions, the recent directives by H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda imposing an impugned curfew and lockdown, and curtailing the functioning of courts is contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers contrary to Articles 79(1) & (2), 99 (1), (2) & (3) & 126 of the Constitution,” he said.
Kinobe said that the directives of president Museveni to the Judiciary relating to the receiving of new cases and the bar to the adjudication of all matters affects the independence of Judiciary and is in contravention of Articles 128 of the Constitution.
The case has got three respondents and the first is the Attorney General who issued in that capacity of the legal representative and advisor to Government by virtue of Article 119 of the Constitution.
The second is the commanding officer and head of the Uganda people defence forces (UPDF), Local Defence Units(LDUs) and other security organs that have committed the acts complained of herein in the course of their ordinary employment.
The other is the Inspector General of the Uganda Police Force who issued in that capacity as the Commander of Uganda Police Force by virtue of Article 213(3) & (4) of the Constitution respectively and whose servants have committed the acts complained of herein in the course of their ordinary employment.
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