ULS Executive Council COVID-19 Message- 22/April 2021

Dear Members,

We take this opportunity to formally commiserate with the families of all our colleagues who have passed on this year as we all fight this deadly virus. 

We also take cognizance of the disruption that the pandemic has had and continues to have on our lives, emotionally, psychologically, financially and otherwise. We remember our colleagues lost, and those that have lost to this scourge. It remains my utmost prayer and hope that this pandemic will quickly cease and that we shall all be able to practice our profession and go about our lives as usual. In the meantime, we urge you all to practice social distancing, observe SOPs and keep your loved ones safe. 

Your Council is very alive to the concerns raised by members on this particular lockdown and would like to address you as follows: 

1. Regarding CLE trainings, we have received queries from a section of the membership inquiring about how the same will be conducted during the lockdown. Guided by the CLE committee, all pending trainings shall continue to be conducted virtually/online until the situation normalizes and we are able to meet physically. We encourage all of you members to utilize this opportunity to learn as much as you can, especially during the lockdown. 

2. We are working with the Ministry of health and several psychosocial actors to make available several free counselling and pysco-social avenues for the legal fraternity to help combat the growing depression, hopelessness and trauma caused by the negatives effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We shall soon share a plan and program to guide the membership on this. 

3. We are are also pursing the Ministry of Transport and Works to get accreditation and movement stickers for the Legal Profession for emergencies and we shall communicate the progress in due course. 

4. Member support services will remain available online and on phone and we encourage you to use the various communication and payment platforms during this time. We applaud or Secretariat staff who remain committed despite some of them having been affected by this pandemic. Our toll free lines 0800100150/1 will remain available to both yourselves and the public. 

Once again, as your leadership, we are doing all that is possible to ensure that the lawyers remain relevant and accessible to all those who require our service. 

Remember to keep safe and to check on one another as often as you can during these trying times.

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ULS EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

ULS Martyrs Day Message 2021

Uganda Law Society joins Uganda to commemorate the Martyrs’ Day 2021.
This day comes at a time when the world is facing several challenges and trying
to cope with the devastating effects of COVID 19 on the world economy.
Uganda has not been spared of these devastating effects. As the Uganda Law
Society, we stand with all Ugandans that are facing and going through these
challenges.
The Martyrs’ Day is an annual celebration where we remember the believers
who lost their lives because of their devotion to faith. This monumental day
dates back to the period of the coming of Christianity into Uganda which
marked a great milestone in what faith looks like today. The actions of the
Uganda Martyrs would later shape the right of expression and the right to
practice one’s faith as enshrined in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda under
Article 29(1)(c).
We take cognizance of the challenging times within which we live today as well
as the necessity to practice religion within the parameters set to safeguard
against the deadly COVID-19 disease. We recognize the occupational health
and safety of the religious leaders and the church goers in the face of COVID-19
and further emphasize the need to prioritize protection of each person during
any such gatherings. Pursuant to the foregoing, we remember all those
religious leaders that we have lost during this tough time and accordingly
commend those who are on the front line despite the pandemic. We commend
the Church in it's faithful efforts to have the public follow the rules on
protection against COVID-19. We also thank the Government for upholding the
right to practice one’s faith within such challenging times while creating spaces
for the continuous immunization of the communities to ensure protection
against the virus.
As we celebrate this day, we urge all stakeholders and the public to follow the
given Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P.s) by the Ministry of Health to
ensure that the believers are in good health and spiritual condition.

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Pheona Nabasa-Wall

ULS STATEMENT ON THE ILLEGAL ARREST OF ADVOCATE NICHOLAS OPIO

The ULS is deeply concerned with the continued illegal arrest and detention of Advocates by the law enforcement agencies. The latest of these is the arrest of Advocate Nicholas Opiyo, the Executive Director of Chapter Four Uganda, who was picked up on December 22, 2020 from Kamwokya at Lamaro Restaurant by alleged law enforcement officers dressed in plain clothes. It is revealed that the details of his whereabouts are currently unknown without any information on preferred charges against him and neither has he been brought to court.

The abduction from Kamwokya and the incommunicado detention of Nicholas Opiyo is high handed and unnecessary. He could have been summoned through his usual address or ULS. The security agencies that arrested him should therefore respect his basic civil liberties including access to lawyers, medical personnel and family. They should respect the privacy and property rights of his phones and car which is yet to be accounted for.

Detaining a citizen incommunicado is illegal and unconstitutional. Nicholas Opiyo should be immediately and unconditionally released.

Article 23 of the Constitution of Uganda grants suspects under detention a right to be brought before court not later than 48 hours from the time of their arrest. This right should not be violated regardless of the excuse. Also, those arrested should be detained in areas gazetted by law .

Adv. Nicholas Opiyo’s right to have access to an advocate of his choice has to be respected. His right to know the charges preferred against him should also be respected in the same spirit. His right to police bond should also be respected as well as the 48 -hour rule should be respected as allowed by law, and the ULS highly condemns this act.

The ULS pledges to follow this matter keenly to ensure that justice is done and the perpetrator(s) are brought to book.

For God and My Country.

PHEONA WALL President

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Pheona Wall

ULS STATEMENT IN COMMEMORATION OF JANAN LUWUM DAY 2021

Today we celebrate the life of Janani Jakaliya Luwum who was the archbishop of the Church of Uganda from 1974 to 1977 and one of the most influential leaders of the modern church in Africa. He was a leading voice in criticizing the excesses of the Idi Amin regime that assumed power in 1971. In 1977, Archbishop Luwum delivered a note of protest to dictator Idi Amin against the polices of arbitrary killings and unexplained disappearing. He was arrested in February 1977 accused of treason and killed shortly after. Although the official account describes a car crush, it is generally accepted that he was murdered on the orders of then-President Idi Amin. We commemorate Archbishop Luwum for being a uniting and healing force within a fractured Anglican Church of his time and a country in terrible agony during Amin’s regime.

As we commemorate Archbishop Janan Luwum, the ULS is concerned with the current spate of abductions, kidnappings and forced disappearances of citizens around the country following the 2021 elections. Several citizens are reported abducted and kidnapped. It is alleged that plain clothed unidentified security operatives first beat up the abductees and take them into numberless tinted vehicles.

Article 20 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda states that the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are inherent and not granted by the state and therefore these rights and freedoms enshrined in Chapter Four of the Constitution shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of Government and by all persons. These acts of abducting the citizens under the auspice of security operatives to curb schemes of criminality are unconstitutional and such incidences should not be ignored.

No person should be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and any person found guilty of an offence should immediately be informed of the nature of the offence immediately, in language that the person understands, be permitted to appear before the court or, at that person’s own expense, by a lawyer of his or her choice per Article 28(3) (b) and (d). Due process should be followed to enable citizens receive fair treatment through the normal justice systems.

In remembrance of our past and in commemoration of the footprints made by Archbishop Janan Luwum , the ULS makes the following recommendations;

The security officers should ensure that all those held in detention who have exceeded the mandatory period should be unconditionally released. All those in cells should be charged and produced before a courts of law as per their constitutional rights.

Security operatives should immediately release the list of those who were abducted and areas where they have been held.
Additionally, the names of security officers who have been found killing, torturing and kidnapping citizens should be prosecuted personally.

The Uganda Law Society is currently handling a few cases of the same and reassure to pursue the prosecution of any personnel who is found to have

facilitated any such abductions.
Our Toll free lines are available to anyone in need of legal help.

0800100150/0800100151

Happy Janan Luwum day

Pheona Wall

ULS president

 

 

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Pheona Wall

Data Privacy Day

Today, the 28th day of January 2021, Uganda Law Society joins the rest of the World to mark Data Privacy Day. The theme of this year’s Data Privacy Day is “Own Your Privacy”. However, rather than calling it a celebration of this day, this is more of a recognition of this day. All around us, not only at a Country or regional level, but more so, at a global level, there is an increasing feeling of the lack of control or privacy over our Data.

The Internet has brought us all closer to one another as one neatly tied global village through the use of ICT in our communications through commercial engagements and social media. At the National level, Article 27 (2) of the 1995 Constitution protects a person’s right to privacy over his or her “home, correspondence, communication of other property.” As such, various legislations have been passed to ease and guide communication and use of data. These are inclusive of the Trade Secrets Protection Act of 2009; the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act of 2010; the Cyber Laws of 2011 (The Electronic Signatures Act; The Computer Misuse Act; and the Electronic Transactions Act); and the more recent Data Protection and Privacy Act of 2019.

The Government efforts made towards a full realization of the protection of privacy over data are therefore commendable. Our enjoyment of privacy over data in Uganda is thus still far from achieving the desired effects as we mark the Data Privacy Day. The Regulation of Interception of Communications Act of 2010 requires telecom companies to install surveillance equipment over suspected terrorists and authorizes Government to tap into personal communications for national security concerns; the Data Protection and Privacy Act of 2019 has also been criticized for having broad and vague conditions in the collection of personal data for national security reasons. This Act goes on to give various legitimate grounds over the collection of personal data (see sections 11 and 12, for instance) but there is no explicit stipulation as to how long such data can be held, which provokes the question over the respect of one’s right to be forgotten.

More recently, the election season of January 2021 has reminded us as to how the Ugandan Government can easily disregard the enjoyment of privacy over data, with the stringent controls over social media and the brutal shut down of the Internet for five days on the basis of “security concerns”. All this begs the question as to whether there is a full realization of the right over privacy enshrined in Article 27 of the Constitution.

The right to privacy is a universal right guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As we mark this day, therefore, it is crucial for the Government of Uganda to constantly engage with other stakeholders in addressing challenges related to internet freedoms and the use of personal data. It is also critical to harmonize more convenient measures of addressing abuse of personal data and online freedoms as opposed to generating public distress.

Pheona Nabasa-Wall

President Uganda Law Society

Faithful~Available~Teachable

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Pheona Wall

As Uganda Law Society, we believe that sustainable social, political and economic progress can only exist in economies where the Rule of Law exists.

"Being democratic is not enough, a majority cannot turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law." ~ Margaret Thatcher

As Uganda Law Society, we believe that sustainable social, political and economic progress can only exist in economies where the Rule of Law exists. It is on this premise that I am honored to present to you this edition of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) Quarterly Report on the state of the Rule of Law, focusing on the period of October – December 2020. My sincere gratitude goes to the Rule of Law Advisory Panel chaired by Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa for their continued invaluable support to the Secretariat team during the compilation of this report. I would also like to acknowledge the input of the Rule of Law Strategic and Litigation Committee as well as the Research and Publications Committee for their efforts in the compilation of this report.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore several underlying human rights violations including the election violence, crimes against children as well as the most vulnerable of society. Our society has witnessed a sharp decline in the efforts put by Government to protect and preserve the rights of victims. This has seen an increase in the watering down of the rule of law efforts. We take cognizance of the occurrence of recent riots that led to numerous losses of lives and property, with many left gravely injured. As we continue grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, special attention must be drawn to the fact that our Human Rights Commission still has no substantive Chairperson, an issue that has created a major leadership gap and lacuna, in regards to the fight to enforce and promote human rights.

We have recorded several Infringements on various constitutional freedoms including the freedom of expression and association freedom of movement and the right to a clean and healthy environment Moreover, we also continue to witness and record Uganda Police Force’s continued violation of the 48 hour rule guaranteed by the Constitution. In addition to this, the climate of legality remains wanting as there is has been a disproportionate use of force when it came to enforcing COVID-19 restrictions during the Election Period, an issue that has tainted the image of the Executive as well as the Electoral Commission.

This Quarter’s report provides a critical analysis and evaluation of the rule of law events and incidents that have transpired during the review period of October- December 2020. We call upon both state and non-state actors to ensure that they adopt a more proactive approach in dealing with the human rights and rule of law challenges in the Country.

The Uganda Law Society remains committed to the promotion and upholding of the Rule of Law as Objective 3 of the ULS Strategic Plan (2017-2021).

In this regard therefore and on behalf of the ULS membership, I wish to urge all the relevant stakeholders to pay critical and deliberate attention to the recommendations made in this report and ensure that we adopt a Faithful, Available and Teachable (F.A.T) approach towards the necessary adjustments to enable us to uphold the rule of law in Uganda at all times.

For God and My Country

PHEONA N. WALL
President- Uganda Law Society

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Pheona Wall

Uganda's Elections message

Goodmorning Member,

As we approach the closing of the election season we are going into a period that will be crucial to the history of this nation.

I do hope that you will carry out your civic duty and vote. 

1. Member Emergencies

As the Uganda Law Society, this is to remind you that there is a member hotline available should any of you be in need of rescue at any one time. It is available for calls and whatsapp on 0777 228 205

2. Rapid Response Unit

During this time, we also have a rapid response task force of 100 advocates that will be available to our people as long as they call the toll free number 0800 100 150/1 and some will be on call at various police stations.

3. Practice Readiness for 2021

We are also cognizant of the fact that you require your practice certificates early and we once again remind you that CLE requirements for last year were waived.  

As we speak, I am glad to report that inspection of chambers has already began and we hope to have it completed by mid February 2021. We thank the Law Council for expediting this. We have also automated our payment platforms and are embarking on easing the linkage with the Chief Registrar’s office.

For those that that have staff that are enrolling remember to make use of the member help desks in our various upcountry clinics who will guide the young lawyers.

Thank you to those of you that used the amnesty period to get in good standing with the Society. 

4. Election Petitions 

As we go into the season of election petitions, this is also to remind you that this week we launched Volume 1 of the Election Petitions Decisions 2000 to 2011. It is available at the cost price of UGX 160,000 and can be requested for through our members’  affairs office. The pQ pers presented at the Election Colloquium will also be shared shortly. 

5. Election Observation 

As you all know, the Uganda Law Society has been accredited as an election observer and 34 members of Council and Staff will be observing various polling areas all over the country. You are welcome to share any pertinent information on the member WhatsApp line.

Not many observers have been accredited this time and our report will be a great contribution to what comes out of the election.  Help us all do our duty effectively. 

6. Conclusion

We continue to urge you to keep safe and observe SOPs to avoid catching the deadly pandemic COVID-19. We urge you to keep the peace and be the voice of the law in your communities.

Best Regards, 

Pheona Nabasa Wall

President, Uganda Law Society

Tel:+256752605115

Email: president@uls.or.ug ; pheonawall@gmail.com

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