Justice Delayed Is Definitely Justice Denied

Our Uganda correspondent reporting that its nearly four years since the arrest of Charles Wesley Mumbere, King of Rwenzururu and about 200 of his royal guards following the attack on his palace in Kasese of which it was estimated that more than 100 people lost their lives during the attack which was carried out by security forces.

Photo of King Charles Wesley Mumbere of Rwenzururu

Even though he is out of jail, his movement remains restricted denying him of the right of association and also the opportunity to offer leadership to his people. His co-accused were not lucky as they have remained in detention without trial since their arrest. This is an unconstitutional situation in that some suspects have fallen seriously sick in prison where they cannot access proper treatment while about a dozen others have died in detention waiting for justice. This lead many people including affected families, local leaders and human rights bodies to get involved and called for justice to prevail in the case but all their efforts went to deaf ears.

During the week, the speaker of parliament joined the chorus of voices calling for the determination of the case and tasked the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to brief the house on the status of the case and all party involved. The long overdue detention has gone on even though the government in 2016 came out to say that they have an overwhelming evidence against the accused. If this is the case, it would be unexplainable as to why the government cannot expedite the prosecution of the suspects.

The accused are entitled to a fair and speedy trial. If they are proven guilty they serve their sentences, if they are not guilty, they are freed to return home to a productive life.

In any case, if the state now finds that it is not yet ready with the evidence as previously thought, there is an option of discharging the suspects and then reinstate the case once the prosecution gets the required evidence to prosecute the case. A similar scenario presents itself in the 2016 treason case against Dr Kizza Besigye. Although there was video evidence of the events the State deemed treasonable, and the accused admitted to swearing in himself as president, the case has been kept in the court registry for this long without tangible progress. Despite Besigye’s own admission of swearing in, the prosecution has not moved to build their case, four years later. The prolonged detention of the Kasese suspects, and the state of uncertainty in which the king and his subjects now find themselves, is grave injustice. By continued detention, the accused are serving an indefinite prison sentence that has not been passed by court. It’s unconstitutional.

One thing should be taken note of and that is the fact that Justice delayed is justice denied.

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