Parliament has granted the Soroti District Woman Representative, Anna Adeke and Bugiri Municipality Member of Parliament, Asuman Basalirwa leave to introduce the Sexual Offences Bill and the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill respectively.
The nod by Parliament for the two to introduce private member’s Bills was granted during the Tuesday, 23 May 2023 plenary sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa.
In her motion, Adeke said that the Bill is a resubmission of the Sexual Offences Bill, 2019, which was read for the first time in November 2019 and referred to the Committee of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for scrutiny but lapsed with the dissolution of the 10th Parliament in line with Rule 235 (1) of the Rules of Procedure, hence necessitating the motion.
“Whereas Uganda has enacted various laws to curb sexual offences and sexual violence against women and children, incidents of sexual violence are increasing as was revealed by the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, wherein 22 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 reported having experienced some form of sexual violence,” read part of Adeke’s motion.
She also noted that the 2021 Uganda Police Annual Report indicated that 16,373 sex-related crimes were reported, representing about 8.2 per cent of the total crimes reported in the country, signifying an increase of 1.4 per cent from the previous year.
Adeke raised concern that due to time, some aspects of the Penal Code Act and various other laws have become outdated, especially in light of technological advances, emerging international best practices and the evolving and current trends in sexual offences.
She said that this has resulted in no prosecution of the vices that are prevalent such as child grooming.
“Due to the scattered nature of sexual offences in different pieces of legislation, the public and the law enforcement agencies are denied a single piece of legislation on sexual offences to guide the effective prevention, protection and prosecution of these offences,” Adeke told parliament.
She cited a need for Uganda to consolidate all sexual offences under a single legislation like it is in a number of Commonwealth countries like India, the United Kingdom and Kenya.
The Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka said that there was no legal issue to raise against the Bill at the time, prompting the Deputy Speaker to question the motion and the eventual approval by the House.
Parliament also granted Basalirwa leave to introduce the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill to amend the Public Order Management Act, 2013 to define an authorised officer and make provision for the disposal of notices for meetings.
The proposed Bill also seeks to repeal provisions in the Police Act affected by decisions of the court in Constitutional Petition No.09 of 2005, Muwanga Kivumbi Vs Attorney General, repeal provisions in the Penal Code Act, Cap.120 that are unjustifiable in a free and democratic state and amend the Nakivubo War Memorial Trust Act, Cap 47, to remove provisions that have been rendered inoperative and redundant.
“The Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court have in various decisions examined provisions of the Public Order Management Act, 2013, the Police Act Cap 303 and the Penal Code Act, Cap 120 and declared them unconstitutional for infringing on constitutional standards and constitutionally protected rights and freedoms,” said Basalirwa.
He added that in order to give legislative effect to the decisions of Court, there is a need to amend the laws to remove provisions that infringe or adversely affect the realization of constitutional standards and protected rights and freedoms.
Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka objected to the motion saying that law revision was the mandate of his office and that Basalirwa can only propose amendments.
But Basalirwa said that the Attorney General was misleading the House since his Bill is about law reform and not law revision.
Parliament granted leave to Basalirwa to draft the Bill and the Deputy Speaker asked him to work with the Attorney General.
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