The Sexual Offences Bill will be re-tabled following an impasse at the committee stage where it was supposed to be processed clause by clause.
The bill was introduced in the Ninth Parliament by Kumi District Woman Representative, Hon Monicah Amoding in 2015 and was before the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, which presented a report four years later on Wednesday, 13 February 2019.
The bill seeks to consolidate laws relating to sexual offences and provide procedural and evidential requirements during trial of sexual offences and proposes several measures to check among others, sexual harassment in schools by guardians or teachers.
During the processing of the Bill on Tuesday, 19 February 2019, the Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, wondered why there were many amendments to the original bill and advised that it should be reconsidered.
“The amendments seem to be bigger than the bill which completely changes the character of the original bill presented for consideration. It is not easy to process because it is no longer the same bill,” Oulanyah said.
Oulanyah advised that given that the leave of Parliament for Amoding was still on course, it would be prudent to re-write the bill and include the proposed amendments for ease of processing by the House.
“If you agree with the amendments, it might make sense for you to withdraw this bill, and publish a new bill with all these amendments incorporated,” Oulanyah advised.
Amoding expressed concern over the slow progress of the bill since its inception in the Ninth Parliament and called on the House to consider the bill in its current state with the proposed amendments.
“I beg that you skip some technicalities to allow this bill be read and the provisions be saved, and then allow the Ministry of Justice to bring their amendments on the Floor,” Amoding said.
The Deputy Speaker however, added that rewriting the bill and owing to the several amendments made was to protect the interests of Ugandans whom the bill directly influences and affects.
“This law when passed, will affect all the people of this country so we cannot afford to make mistakes. The amendments made have not been seen by anybody apart from you [Amoding],” Oulanyah said.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Jacob Oboth said the Ministry of Justice was opposed to certain amendments because they are already in the Penal Code Act.