POMA SECTIONS DECLARED NULL & VOID: OPPOSITION WINS AS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT STOPS POLICE INTERFERENCE WITH PUBLIC GATHERINGS

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NEWS EDITOR

THE learned Justices of the Court of Appeal and Constitutional court in a 4-1 decision delivered today morning have nullified sections of the controversial Public Order Management Act (POMA) 2013 which have been causing outcry from opposition politicians.

The final declarations and orders signed by Hon. Mr. Justice Kenneth Kakuru reads:

By majority decision Kenneth Kakuru, Hon. Mr. Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Hon. Lady Justice Elizabeth Musoke and Hon. Mr. Justice Cheborion Barishaki, it is hereby declared and ordered as follows;

1. (i) Section 8 of the public Order Management Act is unconstitutional and is hereby declared null and void.     (ii)All acts done under that law are here by declared null and void.

2. This petition having been brought in public interest, no order is made as costs.

The Human Rights Network Uganda together with the Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Association (DENIVA), The Uganda Association of female lawyers (FIDA), Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi and Bishop Dr. Zac Niringiye went to the Constitutional court seeking for the redress of section 8 of POMA saying it is unconstitutional.

The respondent was the Attorney General.

Counsel Nicholas Opiyo has posted on social media that, “We are grateful, the Constitutional court has nullified sections of the Public Order Management Act in a 4-1 decision delivered moments ago.”

This Act was promulgated in October 02nd 2013 and many opposition politicians took it to be a ruling government weapon to block their political meetings which they say is unconstitutional.
Section 8 that has been annulled reads:

PART III – DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF POLICE, ORGANISERS AND PARTICIPANTS
Section 8. Powers of authorised officer:

(1) Subject to the directions of the Inspector General of Police, an authorised officer or any other police officer of or above the rank of inspector, may stop or prevent the holding of a public meeting where the public is held contrary to this ACT.

(2) An authorised officer may, for the purposes of subsection  (1),  issue orders including an order for the dispersal of the public meeting, as are reasonable in the circumstances.

(3) An authorised officer shall, in issuing an order under subsection  (2), have regard to the rights and freedoms of the persons in respect of whom the order has been issued and the rights and freedoms of other persons.

(4) A person who neglects or refuses to obey an order issued under this section commits an offence of disobedience of lawful orders and liable on conviction to the penalty for that offence under section 117 of the Penal Code Act.

AT THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

The Coram had: Hon. Mr. Justice Kenneth Kakuru, Hon. Mr. Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Hon. Lady Justice  Elizabeth Musoke, Hon. Mr. Justice Cheborion Barishaki and Hon. Mr. Justice Stephen Musota.

According to Judgement of justice Kenneth Kakuru, “I have had the benefit of reading in draft the judgement of my learned brother the Hon. Mr. Justice Cheborion Barishaki.  I agree with him that, this petition raises issues for constitutional interpretation.” 

“Kiryabwire and Musoke also agree that, the objective to it by the respondent on that account is misconceived and without merit and ought to be dismissed. Cheborion Barishaki has his judgement ably set out the representations, the background to this petition…” Reads Kenneth Kakuru judgement.It’s only Hon. Justice Stephen Musota who went against his colleagues. 

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