Amicus Curiae Approval 14th March, 2016
I am writing to give you an update on the amicus curiae application I and eight colleagues at the Law School submitted to the Supreme Court last week. The words “amicus curiae” mean “friend of court”. The law allows courts to listen to persons who may not be parties to the case but who have expertise to advise the court on how best to resolve the case. Until this morning, the law in Uganda has been that the Court will invite those from whom it wants assistance, you could not present yourself to provide such assistance. This morning that changed. The Court has underlined the fact that justice, according to the Constitution, is administered in the name of the people and people should be allowed to participate in judicial proceedings. The Court also acknowledged our internationally-renowned expertise on matters of democracy, human rights and elections.
The persons who applied included myself, Prof Oloka-Onyango, Prof Sylvia Tamale, Dr. Ronald Naluwairo, Dr. Rose Nakayi, Dr. Kabumba Busingye, Dr. Daniel Ruhweza, Dr. Ronald Naluwairo and Mr. Dan Ngabirano. We sought to be admitted as friends of Court in the ongoing Presidential Petition. The decision to apply was informed among others by the conviction that we have civic obligations as legal academics to provide our expertise for the benefit of the public. We saw that we could point out to the Court some issues that were relevant to the proper adjudication of the Petition. We also did this to be an example to our students that we actually practice what we preach to them. As much as we did this in our individual capacities, we believed that it would enhance the profile of the School of Law and Makerere University.
The Court has now allowed us as its friends and to give it advice. This is the first time a court in Uganda is allowing legal academics for this purpose. Interventions of this nature are going to fundamentally change the way courts in Uganda work. We believe that today we have put our brick to building what one of our lawyers, Robert Kirunda, (also a colleague) described as “this beautiful country”.
Makerere Oyee, as WE BUILD FOR THE FUTURE.
Dr. Christopher Mbazira
Member of the Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL).