It has been widely reported that offices of lawyers (including Lead lawyer Muhammed Mbabazi on Buganda Road and Mr Fred Muwema off Acacia Avenue in Kampala) representing Uganda’s presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi, who is challenging the process and outcome of elections in the Supreme Court, were broken into on 9 March 2016. Computers and documents were reportedly stolen.
See video – Inside the office of burgled Ugandan opposition lawyers:
Everyone who respects the rule of law in Uganda should be concerned. The key questions are:
1. Who was behind the break–ins into the offices of two of Amama Mbabazi’s lawyers? Who bears command responsibility for the break-ins into lawyers’ offices?
2. Where is the future of the rule of law in Uganda?
Undermining the rule of law is worrying. In 2007 the East African Court of Justice at Arusha found a violation of the rule of law in Uganda in the case of Katabazi and 21 others v Secretary General of the East African Community and the Attorney General of the Republic of Uganda, Reference No 1 of 2007, available at http://www.saflii.org/ea/cases/EACJ/2007/3.html, noting that ‘the intervention by the armed security agents of Uganda to prevent the execution of a lawful Court order violated the principle of the rule of law’. Lawyers should be supported to do their work without intimidation.
Breaks-ins into lawyers’ offices representing a petitioner in a presidential petition seriously undermines respect for the rule of law in Uganda given the role played by lawyers as officers of court in the peaceful and judicial settlement of disputes.