Ugandan Human Rights Defenders Win Constitutional Court Battle

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-7-37-30-amIn Uganda, the Constitutional Court handed down its favorable judgment in the case Juuko Adrian v Attorney General, Constitutional Petition No. 1 of 2009 , which challenged Section 15(6)(d) of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act.

The provision barred the Commission from investigating “any matter involving behavior which is considered to be immoral and socially harmful, or unacceptable by the majority of the cultural and social communities in Uganda”.

The Petitioner argued that the Section breaches the right to a fair hearing guaranteed in Article 28 and Article 44 of the Constitution.

In allowing the Petition, Court noted that a close analysis of the section brings out that the broad mandate of the EOC excludes investigation into certain groups. That if a person appeared before the Commission, they would likely be excluded from any form of hearing.

The Court then held that a law that precludes a group of people from adjudication on violation of their rights and does not create an alternative forum to hear them out breaches the right to a fair hearing. Court also held that this limitation on the right to a fair hearing is not acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society:

In the words of Adrian Jjuuko, the Petitioner in the case:

 The case challenged the constitutionality of section 15(6)(d) of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act 2007.

The provision prevents the Equal Opportunities Commission From investigating matters regarded as immoral or socially unacceptable by the majority of the cultural groupings.

According to the hansarda the The provision was included in order to stop homosexuals and such groups from claiming for protection! The provision affects all
Marginalized groups including LGBTI persons, sex workers, women, people living with HIV and the disabled.

The case was filed with myself as petitioner by Counsel Ladislaus Kiiza Rwakafuzi. …

OSIEA sponsored the case. ..

We won on all grounds and the court declared the provision unconstitutional. It has been a bumpy journey fraught with fights with the judiciary…… .

Thank you all for the support and the faith that you had in us. Now section 15(6)(d) is gone and the state cannot legally declare some people as social misfits who are not worthy of protection. Aluta continua!

A big congratulations to Adrian Jjuuko of HRAPF and his extraordinary team of human rights defenders at HRAPF, for winning this long and hard fought battle, in country where one is denied many basic human rights.

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