By Mariam Namakula
National Unity Platform (NUP) has welcomed the decision by the Constitutional Court to transfer all civilian cases to civil courts within 14 days.
The ruling follows a petition in 2016 by former Nakawa MP Michael Kabaziguruka, who had challenged his trial before the General Court Martial.
In a statement released by the party president, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, on July 2, NUP noted that this was a progressive judgment and that they hoped that the regime does not challenge it before the Supreme Court.
“The decision handed down by the Constitutional Court on July 1 was a welcome to development, and though it had taken long (six years) but it was better late than never,” the statement reads in part.
Mr Kyagulanyi said despite all the destructions Uganda still had, the decision was a testament that not all hope had been lost.
He lauded all judicial officers who have remained true to their oath and call.
The NUP president also noted that for a long time, Presidet Museveni’s regime used military courts as a tool for extreme repression, and that many civilians, including him had become victims of army courts.
“President Museveni preferred to use martial courts, which are under his full control and Lt. Gen Andrew Gutti and the other members of the court are mere faces of impunity,” Mr Kyagulanyi said.
To date, many NUP supporters are still detained in different prisons across the country after being remanded by the court martial, division court martials as well as unit disciplinary committees of the military.
This prompted NUP’s legal team to also file a further petition, challenging the trial of hundreds of civilians before military courts.
What Constitutional Court ruled
The panel constituted of five judges led by Justice Kenneth Kakuru and four of the ruled in favour of Mr Kabaziguruka.
The court concluded, among others, that the General Court Martial’s jurisdiction is limited to enforcement of military discipline, persons subject to military law must exclude all those who have not placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the UPDF Act, and that the military law under the UPDF Act must be construed to exclude laws that are the preserve of civil courts of judicature.