THE PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES ON THE JUSTICE AND UGANDA’S EXPERIENCE

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THE PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES ON THE

RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL IN AFRICA, MILITARY

JUSTICE AND UGANDA’S EXPERIENCE

Dr. Ronald Naluwairo

Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Makerere University

Senior Research Fellow, ACODE

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OUTLINE OF THE PRESENTATION

Introduction

The Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair trial and Legal Assistance in Africa

Applicability of the Principles and Guidelines on the

Right to a Fair Trial in Africa to Military Justice

The Right to a Fair Trial in Uganda’s Military Justice

System

Conclusion

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INTRODUCTION

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (adopted in June 1986 and entered into force in Oct 1986) is the foundation of the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial in Africa

Art 7 provides for the right of every one to have his cause heard and this comprises

(the right to an appeal to competent national organs against acts of violating his fundamental rights; the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty by a competent court or tribunal; the right to defence, and the right to be tried within a reasonable time by an impartial court or tribunal. Art 7 also prohibits condemnation of a person for an act or omission which did not constitute a legally punishable offence at the time it was committed.

Art 26 requires States party to the African Charter to guarantee the independence of courts

Art 30 establishes the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) as the major AU body to promote human and peoples’ rights and ensure their

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INTRODUCTION (Continued)

Under Art 45 (b), one of the major mandates of the

ACHPR is to formulate and lay down principles and rules aimed at solving legal problems relating to human and peoples' rights and fundamental freedoms upon which African Governments may base their legislations

It is under this mandate that the ACHPR developed the Principles and Guidelines on the Right t0 a Fair

Trial in Africa

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THE PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES ON THE

RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL AND LEGAL

ASSISTANCE IN AFRICA(May 2003)

Formulated to “…lay down principles and rules to further strengthen and supplement the provisions relating to fair trial in the Charter and to reflect international standards.”

Comprised of 19 sections dealing with: General principles applicable to all legal proceedings; Judicial training; the Right to an Effective Remedy; Court Records and Public Access;

Locus Standi; Role of Prosecutors; Access to Lawyers and

Legal Services; Legal Aid and Legal Assistance; Independence of Lawyers; Cross Boarder Collaboration among the Legal

Professionals; Access to Judicial Services; Right of civilians not to be tried by military courts; Provisions applicable to arrest and detention; Provisions applicable to proceedings relating to criminal charges; Children and the right to a fair trial; victims of crime and abuse of power; Traditional Courts; and Non-derogation from the right to a fair trial

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Sections Most Relevant to the Right to a Fair Trial

Section A which deals with the general principles applicable to all legal proceedings (Fair Hearing, Public Hearing,

Independent Tribunal, and Impartial Tribunal)

Section L provides for the right of civilians not to be tried by military courts. The Section states that the jurisdiction of military courts shall be to determine offences of a purely military nature committed by military personnel

Section N dealing with provisions applicable to proceedings relating to criminal charges (notification of the charge, right to counsel, right to adequate time and facilities to prepare defence, right to an interpreter, right to trial without undue delay, rights during a trial, prohibition of second trial for same offence and the right of appeal

Section R which provides that the right to a fair trial is nonderogable

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The interpretation of the different guarantees of the right to a fair trial in the Principles and Guidelines is generally consistent with international standards

The Right to an independent Tribunal

The independence of judicial bodies and judicial officers shall be guaranteed by the constitution and laws of the country

The judiciary shall have jurisdiction over all issues of a judicial nature and shall have exclusive authority to decide whether an issue submitted for decision is within the competence of a judicial body as defined by law

Military or other special tribunals that do not use the duly established procedure of the legal process shall not be created to displace the jurisdiction belonging to the ordinary judicial bodies

There shall not be any inappropriate or unwarranted interference with the judicial process nor shall decisions by judicial bodies be subject to revision except through judicial review

All judicial bodies shall be independent from the executive branch

The process for appointments to judicial bodies shall be transparent and accountable and the establishment of an independent body for this purpose is encouraged

Any method of judicial selection shall safeguard the independence and impartiality of the judiciary

The sole criteria for appointment to judicial office shall be the suitability of a candidate for such office by reason of integrity, appropriate training or learning and ability

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Right to an Independent Tribunal (Continued)

No person shall be appointed to judicial office unless they have the appropriate training or learning that enables them to adequately fulfil their functions,

Judges or members of judicial bodies shall have security of tenure until a mandatory retirement age or the expiry of their term of office,

The tenure, adequate remuneration, pension, housing, transport, conditions of physical and social security, age of retirement, disciplinary and recourse mechanisms and other conditions of service of judicial officers shall be prescribed and guaranteed by law

Promotion of judicial officials shall be based on objective factors, in particular ability, integrity and experience

Judicial officials may only be removed or suspended from office for gross misconduct incompatible with judicial office, or for physical or mental incapacity that prevents them from undertaking their judicial duties

Judicial officials facing disciplinary, suspension or removal proceedings shall be entitled to guarantees of a fair hearing including the right to be represented by a legal representative of their choice and to an independent review of decisions of disciplinary, suspension or removal proceedings

States shall endow judicial bodies with adequate resources for the performance of its their functions.

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The Principles and Guidelines Strengthen and Compliment the Provisions in the

Charter

E.g.,

Section L which provides for the right of civilians not to be tried by military courts

Section R which provides for non-derogation from the right to a fair trial

NB: The question is whether or not in strengthening and complimenting the right to a fair trial provisions in the

African Charter, the ACHPR did not cross the line by creating new obligations for states altogether than those they agreed to in the Charter!

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APPLICABILITY OF THE AU PRINCIPLES AND

GUIDELINES TO MILITARY COURTS

In Section L of the Principles and

Guidelines to the Right to a Fair Trial in

Africa, it is clearly indicated that military courts are required to respect the fair trial standards enunciated in the African

Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and in the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial

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THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL IN UGANDA’S MILITARY

JUSTICE SYSTEM: SOME ISSUES AND CONCERNS

Uganda is party to both the ICCPR and the African

Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right. These treaties were domesticated in the national legal system

Art 28, Cap 4 and art 128 of the Constitution of the

Republic of Uganda 1995 provides for the right to a fair trial and the attendant obligation of the state

In Attorney General v Joseph Tumushabe, Const. Appeal

No. 3/2005, the Supreme Court of Uganda stressed that

“the Constitution guarantees to every person the enjoyment of the rights set out in Chapter 4 except only in the circumstances that are expressly stipulated in the

Constitution.” It further held that military courts are not exempted from the constitutional command to comply

Trial of Civilians in Military Courts

Inconsistent with international and regional human rights standards, the law jurisdiction over many categories of civilians

(UPDF Act 2005, Section 119)

gives military courts wide

Civilians who serve in the position of an officer or militant in any force raised and maintained outside Uganda and commanded by an officer of the Uganda defence forces;

Civilians who voluntarily accompany any unit or other element of the defence forces which is on service;

Civilians who serve in the defence forces under engagements by which they agree to be subject to military law;

Civilians who aid or abet a person subject to military law in commission of a service offence;

Civilians found in unlawful possession of arms, ammunition or equipment ordinarily being the monopoly of the defence forces; and

Persons not subject to military law who committed offences while subject to military law.

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Trial of Civilians (Continued)

In its Concluding Observations and Recommendations on Uganda’s 3rd Periodic Report 2009, the ACHPR explicitly recommended that Uganda should

“…introduce legal measures that prohibit the trial of civilians by military courts.”

To-date, no legal measures have been induced to prohibit the trial of civilians by military courts

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The Independence and Impartiality of the Military Courts

The law does not provide adequate safeguards to guarantee the independence and impartiality of military courts

Members of Uganda’s military courts, the judge advocates and the prosecutors are all serving military personnel

The judge advocates, prosecutors and members of the military courts are all appointed by the same authority i.e., the High

Command (comprised of the top-most commanders of the UPDF and chaired by the CiC) (See Sections 194-202 of the UPDF Act)

There are no known objective criteria for appointing, re-appointing, suspending and dismissal of the judge advocates and the members of the military courts

The law is silent about the security of tenure of the judge advocates. In practice, they are appointed to serve for a period of one year.

Members of military courts serve for a period of one year. They are eligible for re-appointment

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Independence and Impartiality

(continued)

The financial security of the judge advocates and members of the courts is not prescribed and guaranteed by law. There are no special measures in Uganda’s military justice legal framework for the determination of conditions of service for the judge advocates and members of military courts as judicial officers as is required by the right to an independent tribunal.

In the Uganda Law Society and Jackson Karugaba case v.

Attorney General, Const. Petn. Nos. 2 and 8/2002, the

Constitutional Court rightly held that “…it is not possible for

Uganda’s military courts to be independent and impartial the military structure within which they operate.”

The Right to a Public Hearing

Hearings conducted by the Division Courts-Martial and the Unit Disciplinary Committees in barracks pose a challenge for members of the public to attend

Members of the public are increasingly being excluded from attending hearings in the GCM and the

CMAC on grounds of national security

The GCM and CMAC court rooms are generally not big enough.

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The Right to Trial Without Undue

Delay

Appointment of members of military courts and the judge advocates is not always done in time

Some trials are conducted very fast that the essence of justice cannot be guaranteed e.g., The Kotido Military

Executions where the court-martial convicted two soldiers for murder. The investigation, trial and execution took place less than 72 hours after the alleged crime was committed.

Other cases take too long to be disposed of e.g,

Brigadier Henry Tumukunde’s case took 7 years.

According to the HRC, cases that delay in the military long to convene and the many adjournments

The Right of Appeal

No general right of appeal from decisions of military courts to the civilian superior Courts

No appeal lies from the Court Martial Appeal Court to any other court, except cases of appeal against convictions involving death sentence and life imprisonment which have been upheld by it. See Reg 20 (2) of the UPDF (CMAC)

Regulations

The implication of this arrangement is that for most part, military justice is run as a parallel system of administration of justice. This arrangement also denies the civilian superior courts of record the opportunity to supervise the administration of justice in the military.

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CONCLUSION

The ACHPR should be commended for coming up with the

AU Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial.

They strengthen and supplement the African Charter provisions on the right to a fair trial and they are generally consistent with the international standards e.g., as enunciated in the Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary and HRC’s GC 32 OF 2007.

It remains to be seen how African Governments and states will utilize these Principles and Guidelines to ensure fair trial compliant military justice systems.

Although Uganda’s military justice system is better compared to what it was during some of the past regimes, many reforms are still needed to make it compliant with right to a fair trial

END OF THE PRESENTATION

I thank you very much for listening to me

Dr. Ronald Naluwairo

Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Makerere University

Senior Research Fellow, Advocates Coalition for

Development and Environment

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