Egan Pamba: Should President Museveni declare a state of emergency in Uganda in the wake of Covid-19

A Lawyers View: Egan Pamba.

My opinion backed up by law.

Last month on the 17th, March 2020, Uganda registered its first case of Covid-19 a deadly pandemic that was first reported & comfirmed in Wuhan City, Peoples Republic of China.

In a bid of containing the spread of this virus, the Government put in place a number of measures, these measures were announced by the President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on the 18th, March 2020, some of these measures included closure of all schools, closure of bars, banning of mass gatherings, banning of political rallies, limiting funerals to the immediate close relatives of the deceased & limiting weddings to a number of 10 people in attendance to mention but a few, on the 21st, March 2020 additional measures were announced and so was on the 30th of March 2020.

There was a lot of mixed reactions from different members of the public especially those in opposition about the legality of such measures to the extent that one lawyer who is accustomed to lodging suits times and again in courts of law wanted to challenge the legality of the presidential directives.

Be that as it may the directives stood & they were implemented by the Government through the Uganda Police Force. In any case under Article 23 (1) d of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 the state can curtail or limit the right to personal liberty for the purpose of preventing the spread of an infectious or contagious disease, and by now it is not in dispute that Covid-19 is very contagious probably that’s why the confirmed cases are at 45 as of now in a space of two weeks. So on principle the Government was right to take the course it took in any case it was implemented for the common good. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Despite the measures the Government has so far taken to combat the spread of Covid-19, some other countries across the world have gone as far as declaring states of emergency in addition to other measures. Among these countries which have declared a state of emergency include Spain, New Mexico, United States of America, Italy, Bulgaria, Some regions in Canada to mention but a few.

In all these states where a state of emergency has been declared, it was aimed to alert the citizens to change their normal behaviour & perhaps enable the Government agencies to implement emergency plans. The United States pronounced its national declaration of a state of emergency as early as 13th, March 2020.

So the question that is rotating on the minds of persons whether the circumstances in Uganda as they stand warrant a declaration of a state of emergency, to answer this question I will first define what it means to declare a state of emergency, who has the legal mandate to declare a state of emergency under our laws, what is the legal implication of declaring a state of emergency, how long does a state of emergency last and how is the nation governed and handled during the time the proclamation declaring a state of emergency is in force. I will handle all these aspects in the order they are crafted.

What does it mean to declare a State of Emergency.

State of emergency also termed “Confrontation by sudden peril” is a situation in which a Government is empowered to perform actions that it would normally not be allowed to undertake, in other words it is a pressing necessity, an exigency; an event or occasional combination of circumstances calling for immediate action or remedy. It can also be an unforeseen occurrence or condition calling for immediate action to avert imminent danger to life, health or property. States always opt to declare a state of emergency during times of natural disaster, civil unrest, armed conflict,…
[8:47 AM, 10/31/2020] Counsel Eagan: My humble thinking & suggestion.

There is no way Uganda Law Society is going to curb down the problem of Quack Lawyers when they are not willing to engage the Law Council & other stake holders to enroll all those lawyers with requisite qualifications. I think the key problem at hand that needs to be solved is engaging the Law Council & have the enrollment process of new Advocates simplified. I know some Lawyers who completed LDC as early as 2012 but up to now they are still struggling with enrollment. In Nigeria, enrollment is on the day of Graduation at the Nigeria School of Law which is the equivalence of our LDC, in Kenya the Chief Justice personally enrolls new Advocates in a space of 3 to 4 days but in Uganda, the bureaucracy of the Law Council & other stake holders cripples and delays the enrollment process as most of the applications for enrollment are not considered just on mere technicalities. Let enrollment always be on the day a person graduates at LDC which will be followed by application for a practicing certificate to the Chief Registrar of the High Court of Uganda. A lot needs to change in our Legal profession.

So if I may ask, is ULS suggesting that a person who holds a Bachelor of Laws & a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice but who has not yet been enrolled as an Advocate despite numerous applications to the Law Council is also a quack lawyer ?
How do they expect such a person to survive ?

Just asking !!!.