By Brian Kisomose
Rearresting of suspects by security organs in Uganda after they have been granted bail by competent courts of law has been so rampant and it’s a total violation of rights of accused persons or suspects. It has been condemned but positive results have not been registered.
Bail is an agreement or recognizance between the accused and his sureties and the court that the accused will pay a certain sum of money fixed by the court should such a suspect fail to appear to attend the trial on a certain date. This is a constitutional right as provided for Under Article 23 (6) (a) of the supreme law.
Security organs have on several occasions re-arrested suspects within the precincts of the temples of justice or not far away from the same. They dress in plain clothes as opposed to their respective uniforms so to disguise as civilians in order to conceal their indenty thus one can’t immediately tell as to whether they are being arrested by police, Army, ISO, CMI etc.
Recently four of the eight suspects accused of murdering former police spokesperson the late Andrew Felix Kaweesi, were roughly arrested by plain clothed armed security operatives at the premises of the High Court Division of International Crimes just shortly after they were granted bail.
The justification that is always put forward by the perpetrators or violators of such rights is that such suspects are being re-arrested to answer to other charges that are pending against them other than those to which an application for bail has been granted, one wonders why such charges are not brought to the attention of Police, DDP and Court at the time of arrest or detention of that suspect.
The courts have condemned this act, human rights activists and those concerned and the Uganda Law Society while under the stewardship of the past president, SC Francis Gimara and current president Simon Peter Kinobe have issued statements condemning the same but nothing has been done. Advocates who practice in these courts and those concerned can do more than talking to curb the vice.
The Hon. Chief Justice with guidance from The Uganda Law Society, concerned parties and other custodians of the law should come up with measures to avert this practice one of them could be through issuing a practice direction with solutions to this problem. For instance allowing advocates to make bail applications before court in absence of the suspect so long as such a suspect is represented by counsel especially where his or her counsel thinks the suspect could be re-arrested. A copy of the ruling and an order in case bail is granted is issued and then served to the person in charge where the person is being detained for the release of such a suspect upon fulfilling the conditions.
The practice direction should provide for a court order or ruling granting one bail should bar security organs not to re-arrest such suspects upon being granted bail on any charges not brought to the attention of court or police at the time of arrest and detention save for those allegedly committed after release with proper sanctioning by the DPP.
The advocates be allowed to make another application of habeas corpus in addition to the bail application at once where on suspects that his or her client may be re-arrested upon bail being granted then the presiding judicial officer automatically grant and sign the order of habeas corpus as soon as a re-arrest has been made.
The people who participate and effect such re-arrests should squarely be held accountable for such atrocities and be punished upon conviction and heavily condemned to punitive costs or damages. The time limit within which such a suspect should be re- arrested or charges other than those committed should be set and where a suspect who has been re-arrested upon being granted bail is detained in a place not gazetted by law as a place of detention. Upon such a person being produced in court should be released.
If the above is implemented this will go far in as far as observing rule of law and governance in the country.
The writer is a Programme Officer
Pro-Bono Department – Uganda Law Society & a Practicing Advocate.