President Museveni has once again voiced his displeasure with the acts of granting bond and bail by police and courts of law respectively to people accused of murder and other capital offences.
“The remaining problem is some of the judicial officers and police. Some judicial officers do things that have no connection with reality. In the case of Masaka, so many people have died and suspects are given bail. And we are told bail is a right. Bail of criminals is a right. How about right of the victims? They have no right,” Museveni wondered.
The president was on Friday evening speaking during a live televised address to the country on matters of importance at the State Lodge in Nakasero.
Museveni said that it is appalling that rights for suspects are being fronted but ignoring the same for the victims.
“He is suspect for a very serious offence. Look at his right but also the right for the victim. The victim is dead and your attention is on suspect and nothing for victim! We didn’t fight for our people to be killed with impunity and system is more on the side of suspects instead of victims,” he said.
“NRM insists on fully accountability and full responsibility. We are discussing with stakeholders about all these issues. Bail should not be used as a cover to protect criminals.”
The president also expressed similar sentiments about murder suspects being granted police bond after arrest.
According to President Museveni, it is unfair to see a person accused of murder roam freely in society after being released on police bond.
“For the Police, I won’t accept the issue of bond. I am going to discuss with the Attorney General on how to stop this nonsense,” he said.
Section 17(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code Act says that where, on a person’s being taken into custody it appears to the police officer in charge of the police station to which the person is brought that the inquiry into the case cannot be completed forthwith, he or she may release that person on his or her executing a bond.
This(release on bond) can be done with or without sureties, for a reasonable amount to appear at such a police station and at such a time as is named in the bond .
Bail or not?
President Museveni has of late escalated his push for scrapping bail for presumed capital offenders especially those accused of murder.
According to the president, granting bail to people accused of murder is unfair to the victims.
The president has however clashed with the Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny Dollo on the matter.
The Chief Justice on Monday said the constitution gives discretion to judicial officers to grant or deny bail.
“A judicial officer doesn’t wake up from the wrong side of the bed and deny bail to an applicant or wake up from the right side of the bed to grant bail to all and sundry. The rules for grant of bail are clear and there are many factors considered,” Dollo said.
What others say
Many, especially critics have accused President Museveni of seeking to use denial of bail to target his political opponents.
Forum for Democratic Change and opposition strongman, Dr.Kizza Besigye recently said President Museveni wants to be the accuser , the judge and executioner at the same time.
“The accuser is the judge and executioner; if the law interferes with this, he becomes law maker,” Besigye said recently.
Alliance for National Transformation(ANT) leader, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu recently asked the president to leave the issue of granting or denying bail to the discretion of courts.
What the law says
The right to bail is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 23 (6) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
The constitution says that where a person is arrested in respect of a criminal offence, they are entitled to apply to the court to be released on bail and the court may grant that person bail on such conditions as the court considers reasonable.
It also says that in the case of an offence which is triable by the High Court as well as by a subordinate court,
the person shall be released on bail on such conditions as the court considers reasonable, if that person has been remanded in custody in respect of the offence before trial for 120 days .
The Constitution adds that in the case of an offence triable only by the High Court the person shall be released on bail on such conditions as the Court considers reasonable, if the person has been remanded in custody
for three hundred and sixty days before the case is committed to the High Court.
The basis of this provision is found in Article 28 of the same Constitution which states that an accused person is to be presumed innocent until he/she is proved or he/she pleads guilty.