Two lawyers have dragged government to court for failure to translate the Ugandan Constitution into all the local languages for now a period of 24 years since its enactment.
The current Constitution was enacted in 1995 following its debate by the Constituent Assembly.
On Tuesday, two lawyers including Martins Kirya, a Mugwere by tribe and Michael Aboneka, a Musoga took to the civil Division of the High Court in Kampala to sue government through the Attorney General for abrogating its duty of translating the national constitution into all the local dialects to enable Ugandans understand all its provisions.
“The defendant (government) has unreasonably and deliberately failed its duty to cause or have the translation of the Constitution into various local languages and dissemination of the same as wide as possible for 24 years,” the lawyers say.
“The defendant has failed in its duty to ensure that all education, training and military institutions review their curriculum to incorporate and teach the constitution to their respective students and participants or pupils as mandated by law.”
The two advocates aver that Uganda is recognized as a heterogeneous state with 56 various indigenous tribes each speaking different languages and by the 1995 constitution, the state committed itself and was obliged to promote public awareness of the Constitution by translating and disseminating it in various local languages but it has failed.
The lawyers argue that it is illegal for failure by government to provide for the teaching of the Constitution in all educational institutions and armed forces training institutions as well as regularly transmitting the same through various media outlets.
“The plaintiffs(lawyers) having been born Ugandan like other Ugandans were and are entitled to have been taught the Constitution during their school days from primary level to university level as an obligation of the state but this was deliberately ignored.”
They add, “As a result of the above failures by government, to have the constitution translated and disseminated in their indigenous languages, the plaintiffs and the rest of the indigenous Ugandans to have been and continue to be violated.”
The two lawyers want court to declare that the period of now 24 years without government fully implementing the above mandatory obligations is unreasonable, unjust and defeats the ends of justice.
“Orders should be issued for the defendant (government) to commence and draw up plans to complete the translation if any and subsequently disseminate the Constitution in all local languages.”
“The defendant should complete its aforementioned task within a period of two years from the time of judgment.”
The two lawyers also want court to order government to provide monthly updates to the court and the general public on the status of the translation process for the Constitution.