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Who are the new judges?

In the last part of a two-part series, Sulaiman Kakaire examines nominees to the Court of Appeal, who are being vetted this week. The first part ran on Monday.
Justice Ruby Opio Aweri, 60 - Court of appeal

Little is known about his personal character. He belongs to the league of old school judges who joined the bench in 1983 as a Grade I magistrate. He rose to become a High court judge in 1998.

He was a resident judge of Gulu high court before he was moved to the Civil division and later Land division where he has currently been. He has a bias towards civil arbitration. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in law at Makerere University, having graduated from the same university in 1981.

Justice Faith Mwondha, 59 - Court of appeal

She joined the judiciary in 1979 but later branched out into private practice as a managing partner at Mwondha and Company Advocates in 1995. She later joined the Constituency Assembly as a woman delegate for Jinja. Like Kiryabwire, Mwondha holds a masters’ degree, with a specialty in business law from De Mont Fort University, Leicester, UK.

During her time on the bench, she was appointed Inspector General of Government. Although she was reappointed to serve a second term as the IGG, she was rejected by Parliament after she refused to appear before the vetting committee for approval. In 2009, the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, a consortium of anti-corruption civil society organizations, named her as an anti corruption crusader, following her strong push against the corrupt.

She is most remembered for locking horns with a number of politicians who among them were three former ministers of health who were implicated in the Gavi scandal as well as the former Rubaga South MP, John Ken Lukyamuzi.

Her close associates claim she is God fearing and a proud Christian. She is also most known to be hostile to the media despite being a self-proclaimed human rights advocate. Apparently, she has found herself in the unusual position of appearing before a fellow judge, in a matter in which she has sued The Daily Monitor for defamation.
Her bias is in civil and criminal arbitration.  

Justice Eldard Mwangusya, 63 - Court of Appeal

Following his graduation from Law Development Centre in 1975, he enrolled as an advocate in the Attorney General’s Office, where he served in various capacities, rising up to the rank of Principal State Attorney. In 1997, he joined private practice with Twesime, Kwesiga and Company Advocates before he joined the bench in 1998.

As High Court Judge, he has served as a resident judge at the circuits in Fort Portal and Masaka besides heading the family division. He has also been deputy head of international crimes and civil division and is now the head of the Civil division. Until last week, he was presiding over a case in which Justice Mwondha sued The Daily Monitor for defamation.

Lawyers credit him for having a versatile understanding of the law despite his preference for criminal trials and land matters. He likes playing golf in his free time.

Justice Solomy Bbosa - Court of Appeal

Her curriculum vitae does not reveal her age, but she is very popular both at the bar and the bench, having been a competent lecturer at LDC from 1980 to 1997. She has also previously served as President of Uganda Law Society (1993-95) and is the founding President of The East Africa Law Society (1994-97).

During this time, she was an activist lawyer with a bias towards human rights and constitutional law matters. For instance, during the same period she was among the lawyers who challenged the procedure in which the kingdoms where restored. She was a founding chairperson of Kituo Cha Katiba (East Africa Centre For Constitutional Development 1996-2003). She is married to UPC Vice President Joseph Bbosa.

She joined the judiciary in 1998 as Judge of the High court. Since then she has served in various capacities having been posted to the East African Court of Justice and the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She holds a master’s degree in International Public law from the University of London.

She has vast exposure in international law practice. Lawyers hope that her posting at the Court of Appeal is a welcome news given her vast exposure in international law practice and her passion for making domestic law fit within the international legal framework.

Richard Buteera, 58 - Court of Appeal

After graduating from LDC, he worked as an assistant lecturer at the faculty of Law in Makerere University. In 1981, he joined the bench as a magistrate, rising through the ranks to become Chief Registrar of courts of judicature.

He left the bench in 1995 to become Director of Public Prosecutions, a position he still holds. As DPP, his office came under public criticism for selective prosecution and failure to produce substantial incriminating evidence in cases of corruption.

Prof Lillian Tibatemwa, 52 - Court of Appeal

She is the only person who is coming to the bench from a purely academic background. She is the first woman to hold a professorship in Law in East Africa, attaining the feat in 2009. Currently, she is the deputy vice-chancellor, academic affairs, at Makerere University. She is reported to have developed her interest in law as a child.

She is also an avid publisher of law books. Among them include, Women’s Violent Crime in Uganda: More Sinned Against than Sinning (1999). Offences Against the Person: Homicides and Non-Fatal Assaults in Uganda as well as a book on Criminal Law in Uganda: Sexual Assaults and Offences against Morality, all published by Fountain Publishers, Kampala. She has particular bias towards comparative criminal jurisprudence, transnational crime, human rights perspective of criminal law and minority rights.

Observers claim that her background in academia provides a good blend at the Court of Appeal which currently has justices who are majorly from practice.

Kenneth Kakuru, 55 - Court of Appeal

He is a known human rights activist as well as an advocate with a private firm, Kakuru & Company advocates. He is also a Director of Greenwatch, an NGO whose mission is to promote public participation in the protection and management of the environment. He holds a masters’ degree in Law and bachelors’ degree from Makerere University.

He is also pursuing a master’s degree in Educational policy Planning and development. He is an associate professor at the Uganda Pentecostal University and an external examiner at the LDC in Kampala.

Kakuru has specialized in Public Interest Litigation, but despite his passion for human rights, he shocked many when he stood in defence of bride price. His appointment is good news for environmental rights and constitutional development advocates.  

skakaire@observer.ug

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