High Court has released 20 people accused of defying president Museveni directives . Whisper Eye Reports.
The majority were single breast feeding mothers who were sentenced to 3 months to prison for a go against a presidential directive.
On the 18th March 2020 president Museveni issued directives that locked down the country due to covid-19 pandemic.
Women’s probono initiative letter signed by Lawyer Primah Kwagala urgently notified criminal division of the high court of an immediate application for a decision of 20 people in a criminal case no. 379 of the chief magistrate courts of Buganda road court to be quashed.
The applicants were charged with disobeying lawful orders on the 3rd day of April 2020 and after pleading guilty , were convicted and sentenced on their own plea of guilty a by the trial Magistrate, the letter informs high court criminal Judge.
In an application by Notice of Motion supported by an affidavit sworn by Prima Kwagala stressed the immediate need for the applicants to be released.
According to the application , the learned trial Magistrate erred both in law and fact in not properly recording the plea of guilty thus occasioning grave miscarriage of justice to the accused person.
It also stresses that the learned trial magistrate erred in law and fact when she passed a harsh sentence against the applicants.
Isaac Ssemakadde, Advocate of the High Court and the executive director of Legal Brains Trust, a Kampala-based human rights and democracy watchdog appeared for the applicants together with David Kabanda a human rights lawyer before J. Wilson Kwesiga the head of high courts criminal division.
The Lawyers for the applicants asked court to immediately release the applicants who are poor vulnerable individuals who would not afford counsel at the time of sentencing.
In the application before court the applicants asked court orders , that stressed the impugned proceedings, conviction and sentence of the applicants before her worship Amabillis Stella to be quashed.
The order that the impugned conviction and sentence of the applicants be set aside.
It also asked court that the convicted persons be unconditionally released and no order to retrial be made.
Justice J.W. Kwesiga agreed with M/s Women probono initiative application for revision of the conviction of street dwellers, disabled , and single breast feeding mothers and promised to give a detailed ruling which requires good time to give guidance to lower courts with growing similar cases during this Lock-down period.
His Lordship in stressing his ruling, he agreed that the applicants are vulnerable people whoose justice demands for expedited relief.
The High court Judge agreed with the application that the learned magistrate procedurally erred when she failed to follow the settled rules of procedure of recording pleas of guilty.
He stressed that the irregularities caused a miscarriage of justice and illegal conviction and sentences.
He went on to quash the conviction of every applicant and the sentence was also set aside restoring there liberty amidst jubilation from court attendants and their lawyers.
Talking to Whisper Eye , Advocate Isaac Ssemakadde had this to say , “I am afraid this is merely a drop in the ocean. “We have so far succeeded at dismantling a tip of the iceberg.
“Gigantic efforts are needed to restore the liberty of nearly 8000 other victims of judicial harassment who were unlawfully arrested, prosecuted and detained in similar circumstances since the commencement of this pandemic.” he added.
During the ruling the respondent side of the Director of public prosecution who had been served didn’t appear for the ruling .
Efforts to get a word from the office of the DPP on why they didn’t appear during the ruling was futile.
Its on record that hundreds of Ugandans have been arrested by the authorities in a disguise of breaking president Museveni lockdown directives . Many are rooting in prison .
In a notice letter Jane Frances Abodo who has just assumed her position as Director of Public Prosecutions called upon prosecutors to stop opposing bail applications during this time of covid-19.
FULL LIST OF ALL THOSE RELEASED BY COURT BY THIS RULING
- KEYI ROGERS
- ACEN JOSEPANTY
- AKAO BRENDA
- ACIRO LILY
- ACEN JOSEPHINE
- ALEPER BEN
- GASI MADALEMA
- ALUMAI JAMAL JAMES
- OWORI KERRY
- NAMBI MARY
- MWANJE AKRAM
- BURUSI JOHN PAUL
- NYEKO FELIX
- KAMWAGA JACKSON
- MUWANGUZI DANIEL
- KAZIBA TONNY
- WAPISA ISA
- ANGUZO HASSAN
- ATOROTI BENERD