Ugandan Supreme Court judge faces punishment despite acting within rights of her role

Lawyers Weekly Australia reports

A Ugandan Supreme Court judge has had disciplinary proceedings brought against her, despite her actions being in line with international standards on the independence of the judiciary. This brings further attention to the importance of judges being allowed to fulfil their roles in order to uphold judicial independence.

The Republic of Uganda’s Supreme Court Justice, Dr Esther Kisaakye, has faced “unfair and arbitrary treatment”, following her handing down of a dissenting judgment in a 2021 presidential election petition, stated the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI).

Justice Kisaakye is the most senior judge at the Supreme Court of Uganda after the Chief Justice and has served on the bench for 13 years.

Disciplinary proceedings have been brought against her, along with a recommendation to the country’s president that she be removed from the Office of the Supreme Court.

According to reports received by the IBAHRI, a disciplinary inquiry was initiated by Uganda’s Judicial Service Commission (JSC) following Justice Kisaakye’s decision to deliver her dissenting judgment in one of the 2021 presidential election petitions, where the main opposition leader from the National Unity Platform (NUP), Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, filed a petition challenging the results of the 2021 presidential election that saw incumbent President Yoweri Museveni re-elected.

Mr Ssentamu made a follow-up application seeking leave of the Court to amend his main application, which the Court refused to grant, holding that the application had been beyond the strict time limit provided by law within which the petition should be filed.

However, Justice Kisaakye dissented — the only judge on the bench to do so — arguing that the applicant had been deprived of his right to prepare the application as he was under illegal house arrest.

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