Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association urges Museveni to ‘think twice’ about removing Justice  Kisaakye from office

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The Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association (CLA) has asked President Yoweri Museveni to carefully handle the recent recommendation by Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to have Justice Esther Kisaakye removed from the Supreme Court.

The association’s call follows a February letter by JSC chairperson, Justice Benjamin Kabiito in which he wrote to the President, recommending that Kisaakye should be removed from office.

The recommendation stemmed from a number of disciplinary proceedings, in which the Judicial Commission found Kisaakye culpable of misconduct and scathing attacks towards Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny Dollo during the hearing of 2021 presidential election petition in which opposition’s Robert Kyagulanyi challenged President Museveni’s election win.

In a March 14, 2023 statement, the Commonwealth lawyers’ association expressed concerns about the manner in which JSC wants Kisaakye to be removed from the Supreme Court.

“The Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association (CLA) is gravely concerned about reports that the Judicial Service Commission in Uganda has recommended the removal of Supreme Court Justice Esther Kisaakye from office,” CLA said in a statement.

Quoting one of Commonwealth’s Latimer principles on the independence of the judiciary, the lawyers’ association asked Museveni to handle the matter with diligence, saying the outcomes can affect the image and independence of Uganda’s judiciary.

”Therefore, the CLA urges President Museveni to carefully consider the complications for the independence of the judiciary in having a judge removed in this matter,” the association urged.

It should be recalled that Kisakye’s troubles started after the Supreme Court dismissed an application in which Kyagulanyi sought to file more evidence in his petition challenging Museveni’s re-election.

However, Kisaakye gave the only dissenting opinion arguing that the National Unity Platform (NUP) leader had not been given enough time to file his case.

Kisaakye’s efforts to read her dissenting judgment were obstructed after police took away her file papers and the courtroom lights were switched off while she attempted to read her verdict. She would later publicly blame the sabotage on the Chief Justice.

Since then, she has been the subject of a number of disciplinary proceedings.

Last year in July, she was also accused by the JSC permanent secretary Pius Bigirimana, of being away from work without official leave for a couple of months.

The Judicial Commission had thus, recommended that Kisaakye be investigated and removed from office because of misconduct.

However, many, including the Commonwealth lawyers’ association have raised concerns about whether due process was followed during the disciplinary proceedings.

CLA is an international Non-Profit Organisation which exists to promote and maintain the rule of law throughout the Commonwealth by ensuring independence and efficiency of the legal profession.

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