The Attorney General has filed a notice of appeal challenging the recent Constitutional Court ruling in which it stopped the trial of civilians by the General Court Martial.
Owing to a 2016 petition by then Nakawa Municipality MP Michael Kabaziguruka who was facing treachery charges, the Constitutional Court in a majority decision of 3:2 last week held that it is unconstitutional for the army courts to try civilians since they are not part of the military.
“The Court-Martial is clearly not part of the judiciary. It is part of the executive arm of government established under chapter 12 of the Constitution which provides for the country’s defence and national security,” Justice Kenneth Kakuru said.
The General Court Martial is therefore not a competent court within the meaning of Article 28. The persons subject to military law only subject themselves to the jurisdiction of the General Court Martial in respect of only service of offences set out in the UPDF Act. Military law under the UPDF Act must be construed to exclude laws that are the preserve of the civil courts of judicature established under Chapter eight of the Constitution.”
However, in the notice of appeal, the Attorney General says he intends to run to the Supreme Court to challenge the lower court decision.
“The learned majority justices of the Constitutional Court erred in law in finding that the persons subject to military law cannot be charged before the General Court Martial under any other enactment other than that UPDF Act” says the notice of appeal signed by Martin Mwambutsya, the Director in charge of civil litigation in the Attorney General’s chambers.
According to the Attorney General, the justices of the Constitutional Court were wrong in saying that arraigning civilians before the army court is inconsistent with Article 28(1) of the Constitution.
Article 28(1) of the constitution says that in the determination of civil rights and obligations or any criminal charge, a person shall be entitled to a fair, speedy and public hearing before an independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law.
“The learned majority justices of the Constitutional Court erred in law in determining that the General Court Martial is not impartial or independent and is inconsistent with Article 28(1) of the Constitution.”