An Open Letter To
The Principle Judge
The Principle Judge’s Chambers
The High Court of Uganda
P.O Box 7085; Kampala
28 November 2012
Re-Misprision of Justice: The case of Unpaid Uncollected Terminal Benefits to ex-staff of East African Airways Corporation.
I refer to a Miscellaneous Application at the High Court of Uganda by:
James Bahinguza & Edward Lubega (Applicants)
The Attorney General of Uganda (Respondent)
I am writing to you with heightened apprehension to register an injustice, which I and fellow applicants feel very aggrieved about because of the way it has and is being handled.
September 2001. After a costly and protracted pursuit by staff of the Defunct East African Airways to access terminal emoluments; a Consent Order by the High Court in the Civil Suit No. 1010 of 1996, was issued on 1st October 2000, the Uganda Government to pay. To this end, the entitlement for each staff was calculated as appropriate.
November, 2007. The Government half-heartedly made part payment; accompanied by an overwhelming assertion that the ex EAAC employees had agreed to a part payment as a final settlement of the matter.
May 2009. A Miscellaneous Application to the court filed by Edward Lubega and the Late James Bahinguza; later joined by others challenged the government assertion that final payment had been actioned. This counter claim had been issued in response by us in our capacity as counterclaimants/respondents.
i.Protracted legal action has occurred as a result of the tending Judge and the functioning of the judicial system. For example, the tending judge had been transferred to Gulu without this case being reallocated, and in an attempt to ensure that there are no further delay in the legal procedure an application had been made by our legal representatives, on our behalf, to have the claim and counterclaim heard in Gulu by the former presiding judge. This application had been refused and no justifiable reasons had been given. There had been a number of different instances where there had been procedural impropriety had occurred such as the hearings being cancelled/adjourned without valid notice or a justifiable basis for an order be made that the proceedings be adjourned. In addition invalid notice of the adjourned proceedings had been given to our legal representatives as they had advised us that they had only been put on notice that the proceedings had been adjourned when attending the hearing on the date the proceedings had been due to brought before the court. Given the instances referred to above the only inference that can be drawn would be that it should be considered or viewed as the first subterfuge.
ii.This case was reallocated to another Judge for the matter to be progressed; who in his good wisdom allowed other parties to be joined to the proceedings as appellants. Although on the face of it this would appear to have been fair and reasonable, it only served the purpose of increasing delays through endless filibustering testimonies. We now consider this the second subterfuge.
iii.The presiding Judge for this case has enjoyed extended breaks to attend conferences, study tour, overseas sick leave, etc.,; as the case hibernated in the court-listing calendar. In many instances our legal team stumbled upon this gaping hole by the analysing the frequency of turning up for the adjourned hearings that had been listed to progress the matter. We submit that this should be considered as part of the sequences and pattern of subterfuge.
Having considered the points raised above we submit that it should not be considered an exaggeration that this whole process to hire and retain legal representation has not only been a challenge to our limited resources but stressful and impairing our health. The legal proceedings have been long protracted to the extent they have lasted over 20 years, which is a generation; and 12 years since the first Consent Order of October 2000. More so, the less endowed and desperate families with multiple financial needs since 1974 have relied on legal recourse to their detriment. It appears the judiciary have been heavily influenced by forces who do not appear to be a part to the proceedings and it appears that non-legal influences have prevented them from being able to act impartially and decide the case on the merits and; facts and policy has been a heavy influence on the matter and; we submit has threatened the transparency of the proceedings and the impartiality of the judiciary. The impact of doing so is that a spectre of keeping the alienated, weak and frail below its radar, undergirded by the adage ‘ justice delayed is justice denied’. Sadly, this letter in concert, we submit having considered the points referred to above is indicative of the current judicial system/partiality.
Having been negatively impacted upon by this proceedings we have now become disillusioned with the legal process but nonetheless we still continue to patiently wait for our opportunity to have the matter heard without the external factors and stakeholders being taken into account, which if not taken into account should, we submit, lead to a court order being made to make the government and guardian of national resources liable to pay the money lawfully due to us. Sadly, James Bahinguza [RIP] has passed away without the opportunity to experience justice and have the opportunity to have access to the funds he was lawfully entitled to. This leaves me encompassing a judicial/government subterfuge of outliving and outrunning the increasingly breath-loosing appellants. Both the late James and myself served the aviation institution in Europe and other parts of Africa, proudly with exemplary record at the height of its reverence by the people of East Africa in general, and Uganda in particular. Now, we are a consignment of the graveyard and/or dustbin of history.
I accept that I am not legally trained and I am not within the inner circle of the Stakeholders and the government, but I do still understand the basic principles of a legal right to the money owed. Given that I and my fellow claimants had taken out this action to access our retirement payment, I may be wrong, but suspect your office and the Ministry of Justice are quite and fully aware of this matter, despite the assertions and the smoke screens which have been created to avoid my legal entitlement. I believe that there is a legal right to entitlement even without a lawful court order in place.
APPEAL: On behalf of the victims/ex-EAAC staff and indeed others, who have found or will find themselves in similar predicaments where their legal rights/entitlements have been disregarded without lawful excuse, please accept my heartfelt and humanist appeal to your individual and collective conscience to resolve this matter. Given the actions referred to above have been unlawful I would request that the position previously put forward is reconsidered and the lawful entitlement is honoured as a failure to do so would threaten the public confidence and faith in the institutions which are held in such high regard.
18 Amias Drive
The Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
P.O. Box 7183, Kampala , Uganda
Office of the Inspector General for Government- IGG
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