OP-ED: Foreign Sanctions Against Legislators is an Affront to Ugandan Constitutional Principles, Sovereignty

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By Steven Masiga

In recent times, Uganda has found itself at the centre of international scrutiny due to the imposition of sanctions on government officials such as Honorable Mary Goretti Kitutu, Agnes Nandutu, Anita Annet Among, Amos Lugolobi, and others. While the alleged mismanagement of public resources is a serious concern, it is crucial to maintain the long-held constitutional principles regarding the innocence of accused individuals.

Central to the rule of law is the notion that punishment should not be inflicted twice, and any judicial process initiated by the Ugandan government must be respected. Efforts to address issues of corruption and malfeasance should adhere to established legal frameworks, with due consideration given to the presumption of innocence afforded to all accused persons.

International interventions, such as the imposition of sanctions, should only be considered when local initiatives fail to address the underlying issues adequately. The initiation of legal proceedings against accused individuals, including the likes of Hons Kitutu, Nandutu, and Lugolobi, demonstrates Uganda’s commitment to accountability and justice.

Moreover, both Ugandan municipal statutes and international law discourage double punishment or multiple trials for the same offences. The principle of non-bis in idem, enshrined in Article 28(9) of the Ugandan Constitution and other relevant legal provisions, underscores the importance of avoiding duplication of legal proceedings against accused persons.

In considering extradition or international legal actions, the burden of proof rests with the state or the complaining party, not the accused individuals. Therefore, any imposition of sanctions by the international community must be grounded in solid evidence and respect for legal due process.

President Museveni’s demonstrated commitment to addressing allegations, as evidenced by inquiries into matters such as the purported ownership of the speaker’s house in the UK, reflects a proactive approach to tackling corruption and misconduct.

In light of these observations, it is imperative to allow local legal processes to run their course before resorting to external interventions such as sanctions. The presumption of innocence, a cornerstone of both Ugandan and international legal frameworks, must be upheld to safeguard the rights of accused individuals.

Ultimately, the international community must exercise caution and respect Uganda’s sovereignty and legal processes. Only by doing so can we ensure that justice is served and the rule of law upheld in the pursuit of accountability and transparency.

Steven Masiga, a researcher and writer from Mbale, emphasizes the importance of respecting due process and legal principles in addressing allegations of corruption and misconduct within Uganda’s government.

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