The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has condemned the “dramatic and chaotic abuses coupled with hurling a water bottle” at the Buganda Road court Grade One Magistrate, Gladys Kamasanyu last week.
The incident occurred on Friday in court as the Magistrate was sentencing Dr Stella Nyanzi.
The packed court room descended into chaos during the proceedings with the audience turning rowdy and destroying court property.
Earlier, Dr Nyanzi who was following the proceedings through a live video feed from Luzira maximum prison had made abusive utterances to court before she stripped off and exposed her breasts publicly.
The body that brings together lawyers in Uganda has issued a statement condemning the conduct that transpired in court.
“The Uganda Law Society with great concern condemns the dramatic and chaotic abuses coupled with hurling a water bottle at the Grade One Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu while she was sentencing Dr Stella Nyanzi,” a statement by ULS President, Simon Peter Kinobe said.
The lawyers say the act of hurling a bottle at the judicial officer is criminal and amounted to assault and criminal contempt of court.
“This impunity should never happen in our courts of law no matter the circumstances, ” Kinobe added.
Quoting Sections 14 (2)(b) and 14 (2)(c) of the Judicature Act, ULS says these clauses give powers to the court to exercise its jurisdiction in conformity with common law and the Doctrines of Equity whereby it’s obliged to exercise its discretion respectively.
In addition, reference is made to Article 128 (1) of the Constitution which guarantees the independence of the judiciary that should be exercised without intimidation or interference.
“Therefore, no person while in court should interfere with the judge or magistrate’s ability ti administer justice or insults the dignity of court,” the lawyers say.
Kinobe added that in circumstances where there is potential disagreement with a presiding judicial officer, the law has set in place mechanisms to address discontent like preference of an appeal that shouldn’t be explored by the accused.
“Assault and contempt is therefore not permissible under the law”.
ULS applauded the court orderlies for their immediate response of arresting the perpetrators.
The lawyers’ body says it will follow the matter to ensure that the perpetrators of such acts of impunity are prosecuted and that judicial officers are protected while administering justice in courts of law.
Over the weekend, the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe expressed concern over the same describing the acts as uncivilised, offensive and disrespectful of the sanctity of the courts.
“This kind of thing is not acceptable. We condemn this kind of hooliganism in the strongest possible terms. We hope the culprits are quickly identified and brought to book,” Katureebe said on Saturday.
“We are working hand in hand with relevant authorities to ensure that there is adequate security to all Judicial officers. I have already asked the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to raise the matters Courts’ security as a matter of urgency in Cabinet,” he added.