January 16, 2015

ULS President Disowns Message Calling off Protest

Ruth Sebatindira, the president of Uganda Law Society (ULS) last evening disowned short text messages that were being sent by unknown people to lawyers calling upon them to attend today’s judiciary function of opening the new law year.

Uganda Law Society president Ruth Sebatindira
Uganda Law Society president Ruth Sebatindira

This she says is contrary to her earlier communication where she was encouraging them to rally behind her in solidarity to shun the function as protest against President Museveni’s continued  refusal to name a substantive chief justice and deputy.

Ms Sebantidira alerted the judiciary administrators that ULS will not have any speech to make the function as it had been the norm and anyone who reads any communication on behalf of ULS is an imposter.

“Thank you for your emails and phone calls showing your overwhelming support to protest the lack of a Chief Justice and a Deputy by agreeing to stay away from tomorrow’s ceremony. ..” said Ms Sebatindira in her second letter to lawyers.

Adding: “I am told some of you have received text messages contradicting my call to protest. We do not know the source of these messages and I instead call upon you to remain steadfast in the resolve to protest this unconstitutional state of affairs….”

It also emerged last night for the first time in the New Law year celebrations that government lawyers had been ordered to attend the Judiciary’s function.

Those in the know said this is done by government as a cover up for the lawyers in private practice who might not turn up in big numbers.

It’s also rumored that this time, there will be a registration book for judicial officers to register so that they know who has attended and who has not.

This follows unconfirmed reports that some judges would also shun the function over the same reasons.

In her earlier communication to the lawyers whom she heads, Ms Sebatindira rallied them to join her and shun the Judiciary function as a way of protesting against the continued lack of a CJ.

She said attending the function for the second year running without a substantive CJ and deputy would be sanctioning and lending support to this state of unfortunate affairs to continue.

“This year, I am not going to ask you to stand with me on that tarmac as I did last year. This year my action is to clearly and loudly protest the dubious state in which the Judiciary is run and to demonstrate a call for the appointments to be made, urgently.” she said

Ms Sebantidira added: “I have notified you about the invitation – the decision to attend will be an individual one.  The decision to stay away, and by so doing, stand in solidarity with those who wish to publicly declare their discontent is an available option.”

For close to two years, the Judiciary has not had a substantive head and deputy.

This follows the exit of the former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki in March last year after he clocked the mandatory age of 70 years.

Likewise, the position of deputy chief justice has been vacant following the demise of Constance Byamugisha who succumbed to cancer of the breast in early 2013.

Justice Steven Kavuma who is the Court of Appeal judge has since been acting in both positions

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