Friday, February 27, 2015
Questionable Integrity of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of the Parliament of Uganda
Friends International – Uganda,
Friday, 27th February, 2015.
The Right Honourable Speaker,
Parliament of the Republic of Uganda,
Plot 16-18 Parliament Avenue,
P.O Box 7178, Kampala, Uganda.
Dear Madam Speaker,
Re: Questionable Integrity of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
First and foremost, my colleagues and I would like to immeasurably thank you, Madam Speaker, and the august House at large, for ably and eloquently debating and passing the Motion For A Resolution Of Parliament To Set Up A Select Committee To Investigate A Complaint Against The Under-Performance Of The Law Development Centre And Other Related Issues, on Wednesday, 3rd December, 2014. Thank you very much.
In their wisdom, the Honourable Members decided that the complaint be investigated by the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, although some of our members expressed distrust in and reservations about that Committee, and judging from the conduct of some of the Committee members both before, during, and after the 3 December 2014 parliamentary debate, the concerns of our members continue to attract vindication.
On Wednesday, 25th February, 2015, the Committee started investigating the Complaint. But we were unable to appear and present our case, because unfortunately, on that very day, while on my way to Parliament, I was arrested by a traffic police officer for excess loading on a motorcycle, and for not wearing a helmet while riding on a motorcycle, contrary to the Traffic and Road Safety Act, and other traffic regulations. Now I fully understand why MPs have absolute immunity from arrest and detention while they are on their way to fro Parliament.
But someone privy to and knowledgeable of the Committee’s Wednesday proceedings has written and published about the same, condemning the Committee members as unserious, biased against us, and just jokers. Please, find hereon attached [http://www.bbbakampa.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-committee-on-legal-and.html] to this letter, the publication alluded to here.
Madam Speaker, the conduct of some members of the Committee is extremely worrying to us, as far as this investigation is concerned. It ignites feelings of doubt in us as to whether we can get justice from them, as the mover of the motion, Hon. Oboth-Oboth, rightly submitted on the floor of Parliament. That is why, in the complaint, we called for a serious, in-depth and independent parliamentary inquiry. After unsuccessfully trying to block the complaint from being investigated on the floor of Parliament, we suspect these Committee members just want to strangle it.
In the course of its investigations, the Committee should treat us with deserved courtesy and respect. Although they may disagree with us, they should have the decency to conceal their prejudices and favouritism, if any. For so long, they have persisted in denial and negation of us and our complaint; for example, while on an East African tour with LDC officials in November 2014, particularly in Rwanda, they denied knowledge of us in spite of the fact that I personally served copies of the complaint on some of them like Hon. Abdu Katuntu, and that the motion of the complaint had been on the Order Paper since 25 June 2014. This outright denial and negation was before our colleagues who are studying their Bar course in a foreign territory, just because the defective system in their country has no room for them, which anomaly the Committee is tasked to remedy. For that matter therefore, through you, Madam Speaker, I request the substantive Committee Chairperson and Vice Chairperson to call their members to order and seriousness.
I request the Committee to give us a programme for its hearings in investigating this complaint. As complainants in this matter, surely we deserve to know how the responsible authorities are treating our matter, and what they are doing about the issues we raised. But imagine that we were not even aware that the immediate respondent to the complaint, LDC, was scheduled to appear that very Wednesday afternoon! All I was told by the Committee clerk, Mr Ainomugisha Gilbert, is that they would be calling LDC students like Guild officials to testify, but I told him that those may not help them much, for fear of victimization by the supremos at LDC, like I was (in fact the Committee should verify my LDC results). And the LDC Guild officials did not appear, anyway. So, you can see that the Committee is deliberately playing some game of concealment and deception on us.
I also take this opportunity to call upon the Committee to pick interest in listening to relevant stakeholders especially universities like Uganda Christian University, Mukono (UCU), and individuals like prominent lawyer and advocate, Counsel Ladislaus Kiiza Rwakafuzi, who have always wanted to set up facilities to teach and train the Bar course programme. In fact, UCU formally applied to the Law Council for permission to do so, but the Council adamantly refused.
Then, for the benefit of the Committee members, I would like to state categorically clear, that while Hon. Oboth-Oboth moved the motion in Parliament for this complaint to be investigated, may it be clear to all that for all intents and purposes, he and we are independent of one another. Hon. Oboth was only playing his parliamentary role, simply because we cannot perform it ourselves, since we are not MPs. But it should be well understood that while he supports our cause, just like many others, he has no personal interest in this matter whatsoever, for which reason he should not unnecessarily be pegged onto us, to the point of even being blackmailed by some Committee members like Hon. Byarugaba Alex Bakunda, who insinuated on the floor of parliament that Hon. Oboth had failed the Bar course. Now, surely, if Committee members can mudsling and malign one of their own, how much worse can they do to us! We are decent, and should be treated decently.
Lastly, as Lead Complainant in this matter, and team leader of Friends International – Uganda, I would like to clarify that we still have full confidence in the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to conduct a serious, in-depth, and independent inquiry in this matter. I believe Parliament had good reasons for entrusting this Committee with investigating the complaint. We hope that the Committee members will not betray our trust in them. All we seek from the Committee is justice, and I know that the eminent lawyers comprising its majority know very well that justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done.
Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
c.c. The Right Honourable Deputy Speaker of Parliament
c.c. Clerk to Parliament
c.c. Chairperson, Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
c.c. Honorable Oboth Marksons Jacob