By Milli Shar Miem
There has been incensed debate for the last one month when President Museveni repeated his decade-long proposal to delay giving bail to capital offenders.
“Really! Somebody has killed a person and you see him walking around, that is a provocation I am telling you. It’s a provocation, we can’t accept it,” Mr Museveni said at the fourth Ben Kiwanuka Memorial Lecture in Kampala two weeks ago.
The debate has turned political and in the end the good intention of the proposal may be watered down by this sharp political divide over the matter.
It’s now the word of the opposition against that of the ruling party who are always treating each other with suspicion which in the end will turn what is supposed to be a legal debate into a politically subjective argument.
Morally, it’s disheartening for the relatives of a murdered person to see a suspected killer return to the village days after the victim has been buried. Imagine! Indeed like Museveni said, it’s a provocation.
Even the Director of Public Prosecution Justice Jane Frances Abodo said at the sidelines of the launch of the trafficking persons prosecutor guidelines in Kampala last week that it is against African culture to release someone who is suspected to have killed another barely days after being arraigned before court.
“Someone is not yet buried and a person suspected to be the killer is moving around the village. That person can be lynched,” She was quoted by Daily Monitor.
According to the Police Crime Report released in April, 540 people were killed by mob action between April 2020 and April 2021.
Although there was a reduction in the number of cases compared to the previous year ending the same month, Uganda has the highest number of cases of mob justice in the East Africa.
According to the 2015 Afrobarometer survey in Uganda, one in six Ugandan adults said they took part in mob justice during the preceding year or would do so if they “had the chance.”
People resort to mob justice as an alternative justice when they suspects getting back to communities where they committed crimes.
President Museveni has for the last ten years proposed a mandatory denial of bail to suspected offender, until after 180 days.
This after the then Arua Municipality Member of Parliament Akbar Godi, sentenced to 25 years for convicted of murdering his wife, Rehema.
However, those opposing the President’s proposal especially the opposition politicians see his proposal in the obscure way because their colleagues Allan Ssewanyana of Makindye West and Muhammad Ssegirinya of Kawempe North were arrested in connection with murders in Masaka.
The opposition say the arrest of their colleagues is political witch hunt. This might vulgarize the much needed debate on whether capital offenders should spend 180 days before getting bail.
Milli Shar Miem is a student of communication at Cavendish University .