Torture of an accused person nullifies criminal proceedings

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By Norbert Mao

We’re concerned about illegally detained, brutalized and tortured suspects being brought before the courts of law, we wish to add our voice in condemning the abuse of judicial processes that emanate from the abuse of suspects’ constitutional rights.

We have also heard the voice of the Uganda Law Society denouncing the abuse of the human rights of those facing criminal prosecution and we join in demanding that such prosecution be dropped. There are sufficient authorities to guide the courts as they exercise their discretion to halt the tainted prosecution.

In the case of Uganda vs Robert Ssekabira and 10 others, Justice Ralph Ochan made a landmark ruling when he said: “We cannot stand by and watch prosecutions mounted and conducted in the midst of such flagrant, egregious and mala fide violations of the Constitution and must act to protect the constitutional rights of the petitioners in particular and the citizens of Uganda in general as well as the rule of law in Uganda by ordering all the tainted proceedings against the petitioners to stop forthwith and directing the respective courts to discharge the petitioners.”

In Dr Kizza Besigye vs Attorney General, the Constitutional Court stated the law in these words: “This court cannot sanction any continued prosecution of the petitioners where during the proceedings the human rights of the petitioners have been violated to the extent described above.

No matter how strong the evidence against them may be, no fair trial can be achieved and subsequent trial would be a waste of time and an abuse of court process.”

These binding authorities point to only one thing: the dismissal of the charges and discharge of the accused persons. As Edmund Burke wrote “Law and arbitrary power are in eternal enmity.”


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