When Speaker Kadaga received the rule of law award from Ms. Nabasa, President Uganda Law Society. Left is Mr. Okwalinga, ULS CEO
ON DECEMBER 24th 2020, Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga received Rule of Law award 2020 from Uganda Law Society (ULS) at a function presided by lawyers’ President Phiona Nabasa Wall.
This happened in the Speaker’s boardroom at Parliament.
While receiving this special award, Speaker Kadaga said, “I am happy that Uganda Law Society has recognised my work. Sometimes I stand between the State and the people and the situation becomes complicated but I think it’s worthwhile. I feel energized and I will continue speaking for the voiceless.”
The rule of law award is given to specific individuals for the efforts that they make towards the rule of law.
Kadaga, a great leader who is the Kamuli district Woman legislator cited President Museveni’s directive to disband the Fisheries Protection Unit and said, “That is one of the areas that we engaged in running battles between myself and the Miltary but finally, something has happened. However in the process, there has been so much damage, so much cost, so much loss of economic opportunities, loss of life and so on. However am glad that finally our voices have been heard and Fisheries Protection Unit disbanded.”
Handing over the award to Speaker Kadaga, ULS President Nabasa said, “Madam Speaker, you are the right person for this season, and we thought that you should get this rule of law award because we can not think of any body that has championed the cause of rule of law like you have.”
“Allow me to present to you this Uganda Law Society rule of law award in recognition of your contribution towards the fight for rule of law, respect and enforcement of human rights, for your partnership with the Uganda Law Society and for the good will towards the people of Uganda. We know that sometimes your job looks like a thankless task but we want to remind you today that we see what you do and we thank you madam Speaker.” Said President Nabasa in the company of Moses Okwalinga, CEO Uganda Law Society.
It was in light of this that Kadaga was recognised for her contribution towards the fight for the rule of law, respect of human rights, for a partnership with the Uganda Law Society and for the good will towards the Republic of Uganda. Kadaga who was presented the award on Christmas eve was found in her office working on a public holiday which surprised the delegation from Uganda Law Society. On this the President Uganda Law Society had this to say, “The fact that you are in office now shows the level of commitment you have for the service of this country.”
ULS addresed Speaker Kadaga as their very dear member, the highest lawyer in parliament and actually in the land and because of that they said, they would always look to her for guidance.
Uganda Law Society has a mandate to protect the rule of law but also advise government on issues of the good governance and the law in general.
They release quaterly reports that name and shame and also applaud those people that have been actually championing the cause of the rule of law.
A lawyer by profession, Kadaga is an active member of the Uganda Law Society praised for raising the flag high.
WHY KADAGA WAS AWARDED THE BEST
The Rt. Hon. Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga was the president of the Federation of Women Lawyers in Uganda in 1986 to 1989. She championed the establishment of the first legal aide clinic in Uganda by FIDA. Ms. Nabasa noted that, as Uganda Law Society their third duty is to ensure increased access to justice thanking Kadaga for her sweat in the first legal clinic ever established in 1994. FIDA had a legal clinic thanks to Kadaga.
ULS President put it to Kadaga that, “As women, we also applaud you for spearheading the establishment of the certificate of gender equity which is the first in the world. And UN women recognised this at the women’s day in Kololo in 2018. We want to applaud you for this because it has increased affirmative action in appointments and the appointment committee in Parliament and we can not thank you enough for this change.”
Kadaga was the first woman to establish a law firm in Uganda and has mentored so many women through that Law firm and even with in FIDA.
“However, we want to talk about your latest term as Speaker of Parliament. You are currently the Commonwealth parliamentary president designate for 2018/2019 and for me, that means you have been holding our flag high even in the issues of Commonwealth internationally.” Noted ULS President.
Lawyers thanked Speaker for her effort in ensuring that two key legislations that were passed last year (2020). These are: The Human right enforcement Act which has now put in reality the execution of officers that abuse their powers but has also shown the might on torture during prosecutions. This now entitles the courts to throw out any prosecution where it is found that someone has been tortured.
Kadaga was also thankes for championing the passing of the Judiciary Adminstration bill.
For the first time, in the history of Uganda, lawyers say, the judiciary is now taking the place that it has always meant to be holding as per the constitution. It is the third arm of Government but for a long time it has been lame or invisible.
“So we thank you that under your leadership, this year, we saw this happen and has opened up a lot of things and we are also looking to the judiciary for hope as we speak.” Said ULS President.
On Kadaga’s efforts geared towards ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Uganda, ULS said this has been a huge cultural injustice and without a voice like hers in Parliament as the third member of the Government it would be hard to fight.
Kadaga was hailed for championing the inquiry that has dealt with injustices and rule of law matters in this country.
Lawyers zeroed on the sexual harassment in schools.
“This broke with the St. Lawrence scandal and madam Speaker you were very quick to put up the Rwakojo commission to investigate these issues.” Said ULS President, adding, “That report from Parliament has been a basis of a lot of research, a basis for funding to the Uganda Law Society through you and women for all the SGBV efforts that we are making. I am glad to tell you Rt. Hon. Speaker that we have about seven legal aide clinics of our twenty-four that are now dealing with the SGBV because of the efforts that you brought forward.”
As Uganda Law Society, we have rule of law clubs, believing in the rule of law should be a culture. They started rule of law clubs in schools and for the last two year, SGBV has been the theme of their rule of law symposiums.
They also participted in 16 days of activism, saying their funders would not have prioritised this conversation if Speaker Kadaga had not made it a conversation that is a priority in Parliament.
On championing the fight against corruption, ULS looked at The Bank of Uganda investigations and the funding around Covid-19, especially to do with the radios.
On radios they said, it saved the government a lot of money after investigations revealed that the supplier was questionable.
ULS noted that Rt. Hon. Speaker Kadaga has been very passionate about the new things that are happening in the Uganda Law Society.
She has been a champion for the legal aide bill and the sexual offenses bill. If the legal aide bill becomes a reality, ULS said, every Ugandan will be entitled to legal aide in this country.
They thanked Kadaga for always having an open door whenever lawyers go to her over the sexual offenses bill.
This bill seeks to register the offenders because these people who are defilers in schools, move from one school to the other because they are not registered.
“We are looking to you Hon. Speaker to have that bill passed. We also look to you to pass the human rights defenders bill. A lot of human rights enforcement officers and human right defenders have been under fear for their work because of the shrinking space they are operating in.” Said Ms. Nabasa.
She explained that, “Without the human rights defenders bill being passed, human rights defenders will still continue to be viewed as annoying insects by the government and will be thwarted away endlessly. So we thank you for your support towards this bill. With someone like you Rt. Hon. Speaker, we have been able to come to you with confidence.”
“When I started my term as ULS President,” Nabasa said, “I was so honoured to have you come and spend five hours with us. And with the women in Law Society talking about a new dawn for the Uganda Law Society. About the challenge that you put to us to unite as lawyers in this country, I want to report that we are achieving that.”
She appealed to Speaker Kadaga to continue championing the cause of human rights defenders.
“We also want as Uganda Law Society to openly petition you, we need a chairman for the human rights commission. The fact that we have not had one for a year, tribunal can not sit. This is a very big problem and a big injustice, it is creating problems of backlog in the courts like we do not have enough problems with that and a lot of people are dying without seeing any remedy.” ULS President Nabasa prayed. Former Human Rights Commission boss Med Kaggwa passed on last year.
I WILL FIGHT ON – KADAGA
Thanking ULS for appreciating her work, Speaker Kadaga said she has been energized to fight on.
About Human Rights commission chairman, Speaker Kadaga said, “I want to tell you that I am concerned just you are on the issue of the Chairman human rights. I talked to president three times about it so I think we really need to remind him because I know they are handcuffed.”
“First of all, they registered the required number so they can not form committees but the absence of the substantive head really makes it difficult. Recently I had to devise a way for them to come up with to report because the constitution puts a particular time for them to report. So I had to find a way for them to present a report although they lack a chairman.” She explained.
About the human rights defenders bill, Kadaga assured ULS that as soon as it is tabled, they will work on it saying her members would be happy to do this work.
“Parliament has been very consistent for instance on torture bill and the human rights enforcement bills were from the private members. Parliament has always been concerned and trying to fill the gaps.
It is so long ago that we started the FIDA work but now having all those legal aide clinics, it’s so amazing.” Noted this iron lady.
KADAGA’S SPEAKERSHIP BID
All indicators show, Kadaga is still a darling and the best candidate for the Speaker’s job. She has already declared her intention to stand again to preside over the 11th Parliament as Kamuli people are set to massively vote her again next week on Thursday January 14th 2021 as their MP.
Other aspiring candidates for speakership look very weak, unpopular and none can fit Kadaga’s shoes going by Uganda Law Society recommendations to their own while crowning her, best rule of law defender.
Recent opinion polls put Kadaga in a very comfortable zone if elections are to be carried today.
Any other MP who will be tempted to contest against Kadaga, will just be wasting time and resources.
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