Stella Nyanzi Petitions High court over Mental Examination

Stella Nyanzi Petitions High court over Mental Examination

By Serestino Tusingwire

The incarcerated Makerere University academician, Dr Stella Nyanzi has ran to High Court following attempts by government to examine her sanity.

Nyanzi, a virulent government critic on social media, is facing criminal charges for allegedly referring to President Museveni as a “pair of buttocks” in a Facebook post.

Through her lawyer Isaac Kimaze Ssemakadde, Nyazi wrote to high court asking it to revise her case and determine whether she should go through mental examination or not.

The deputy registrar of the High court, Eleanor Khainza has therefore recalled Dr Nyanzi case file from Buganda Road chief Magistrate’s court after Nyanzi lawyers accused the Buganda Road court chief magistrate James Ereemye Mawanda of siding with the state.

In an April 11 letter to the High court, Ssemakadde accused Buganda Road court chief magistrate James Ereemye Mawanda, who has been handling the case, of siding with the state to refuse to hear Nyanzi’s bail application after she had taken plea.

Mawanda refused to hear Nyanzi’s bail application on April 10, after prosecutor Jonathan Muwaganya asked court to first ascertain Nyanzi’s sanity. Ssemakadde said Mawanda “erroneously and injudiciously” remanded his client to Luzira prison until Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

The lawyer also faulted Mawanda for directing that Nyanzi’s bail application should await the determination of Nyanzi’s sanity.

“In effect, the learned chief magistrate [Mwanda] has thrown into indefinite limbo a bundle of our client’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to liberty, presumption of innocence, presumption of sanity and a fair and speedy hearing before the determination of her civil rights,” he said.

Ssemakadde said Mawanda failed to uphold “the very important duties cast on him as a judicial officer” by articles 20(2) and 274 of the Constitution, as well as Section 113(3) of the Magistrate’s Courts Act.

In recalling the file, High court invoked its supervisory powers under Section 17 of the Judicature Act and powers under section 48 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act. The said laws empower the High court to examine records from the magistrate’s court for the purpose of satisfying itself about the correctness and legality of the orders passed by the chief magistrate.

Ssemakadde wants the High court to strike out the state’s purported application, which seeks a mental examination of Nyanzi because it is “frivolous, vexatious and malicious abuse of process.”

Relatedly, through the Center for Legal Aid, Nyanzi has filed her bail application at the Criminal division of the High court.