The British are doing it…police can arrest someone for 90 days before charging him’
On the Capital Gang radio talk-show on Saturday, police chief Kale Kayihura blamed the current spate of murders, terror threats and mob justice on Uganda’s rigid criminal justice system.
Kayihura said the legal requirement for suspects to be presented before courts of law within 48 hours is not practicable.
“If I cannot have enough time to investigate a case… however articulate you are, if you do not have the evidence on file, you will not succeed in convincing the judge,” Kayihura said.
“It will always be in favour of the accused. We need to be given enough time.” The police chief, who has persistently made this point in the past, called for the amendment of the law to extend the time within which a suspect can be presented before court.
During the requiem church service for the slain state prosecutor Joan Kagezi at St Luke Church of Uganda in Ntinda earlier this month, Kayihura attempted to persuade the new chief justice Bart Katureebe to agree with him. However, a reluctant chief justice cautioned about panicky reaction to Kagezi’s death.
Speaking on the Capital Gang talk-show moderated by Oskar Semweya Musoke, Kayihura suggested that the current criminal justice system should be overhauled “so that it delivers substantive justice rather than making us hostage to technical rules that we inherited from the common law system and which actually subverts substantive justice.”
Kayihura, who was part of the panel that included Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu, pro-federation politician Beti Kamya and Uganda Media Centre executive director Ofwono Opondo, described Uganda’s criminal justice system as a mockery of justice.
He cited suspects being released on police bond or bail once in court, and even acquittal [for lack of evidence], which he said have given rise to cases of mob justice.
A lawyer himself, Kayihura said Britain, where Uganda borrows the current legal system, has since reformed theirs to conform with the changing times.
“The British are doing it… police can arrest someone for 90 days before charging him,” he said.
Ofwono Opondo said the foundation of the NRM revolution is that the law must serve the popular will of the people. He called for a national conversation about our justice system to address its ideological underpinnings.
However, Katuntu argued that the law is not the problem but, rather, the inefficiency of the system.
“For instance, there is no automatic bail. For you to enjoy it…you must convince the judge,” Katuntu, the shadow attorney general, said.
He added that an accused person must persuade the judge that he or she will not interfere with the prosecution’s case for them to secure bail.
On the mandatory 48 hours within which to present suspects in court, Katuntu, a former state attorney , said the investigation machinery and prosecution should be quipped and strengthened to meet this demand.
On the rise in applications for fire arms from private individuals, Kayihura said the police are using their discretion carefully.
“I have so many applications but if we become too liberal, it will become a problem… that is why we have the discretion,” he said.
Source : The Observer