KAMPALA —Chief Justice Alfonso Owiny-Dollo has condemned a section of Advocates who decided to boycott the New Law Year ceremony which was organized at Judiciary headquarters in Kampala on grounds that they were not contented with a High court ruling in their matter.
CJ Dollo while addressing the gathering at the New Law Year on Friday, noted that its surprising to see lawyers (officers of court) have failed to address their disagreement through peaceful means despite of the fact that the two are close partners.
“For a member of legal professional to attack the person of judicial officer, not once not twice because of the decision he has made , that is a no go area….We welcome and accept criticism, as a matter of fact, whoever doesn’t accept criticism is heading for doom.But that criticism should be intended for them to realize that.”
“You can walk in my chambers tell me in my face, I will appreciate and also give you my side of the case , you can buy a page and write your criticism on my administration. But u can’t abuse me because am a judge and I keep quiet.
For me as Owiny Dollo I will respond for the simple reason that I don’t keep grudges as those who keep quiet.”
It’s for the above reasons that the Chief Justice promised the President of Uganda Law Society that there are going to be a bar – bench conversation where the judiciary is going to be so open before the 29th February , Judiciary’s Open day celebrations which will be held in Kololo.
Nobert Mao, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs promised to have special engagement with the management of Law Development Center (LDC) to find means of improving upon discipline of law students. “If the wrong seeds were planted, they will germinate as seeds in the Judiciary and some have germinated.”
Kiryowa Kiwanuka, the Attorney General asked Lawyers to always use available legal means in addressing their grievances than resorting to other means.
“We have had a lot of excitement on communication between President and Chief Justice. Law society to seat and discuss…discus what? This is a communication between one arm of the state and the other arm. If the Law society has the legal mandate as we say to communicate its grievances to the judiciary, so why not the Executive,” He added
Bernard Oundo, the President of Uganda Law Society expressed the need to improve the bar – bench relationship where lawyers can speak freely on matters of rule of law and administration of justice since they have a key role of linking the justice system to justice seekers.
“We shall meet on a bi annual basis and solve our grievances with the judiciary. We can’t have a people centered approach to justice if Resident District commissioners and other entities outside the court system have become appellant courts and have now taken it upon themselves to audit court judgements. These acts affects the integrity of the court system.”
Oundo also reported that they have two orders from courts that are most likely to have an implication on their right to Assembly and freedom of Association.
“We will live as an example, defend these matters in courts of law and we shall not even boycott this function. Your Excellence as you know we were supposed to boycott but the judiciary is a head of us and invited a few of us,” he further added.
Genesis of the matter
This started from President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni‘s letter dated December 7th 2023 to the Chief Justice Alfonse regarding management and handling of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council property case with businessman Justus Kyabahwa.
This became a point of discussion among the legal practitioners under Uganda Law Society, who expressed the need to convene an extra ordinary general meeting to discuss the matter.
On Tuesday, this week, High Court in Kampala has issued an injunction stopping the Uganda Law Society from convening its extraordinary meeting.
The order issued by Justice Musa Ssekaana followed a successful application by one of the members of the Uganda Law Society Brian Kirima against his professional body where he said he was going to suffer irreparable damages if the meeting went on.