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Justice Mulenga is dead

Justice Joseph Nyamihana Mulenga died today, Wednesday reportedly after succumbing to cancer but details of his death are still scanty.

According to an online profile from his private firm, Kampala Associated Advocates, Mulenga graduated from London University with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) in 1965. The following year he became barrister in law (lawyer who speaks in the higher courts of law on behalf of either the defense or prosecution) at the Middle Temple, London.

He rose steadily through the judiciary ranks in Uganda, first working as Public Prosecutor in the Department of Public Prosecutions, then Resident State Attorney (Eastern region) and thereafter as Senior State Attorney. For 14 years, the profile further states, Mulenga served as National Deputy Chairman for Democratic Party (DP).

Between 1986 and 1989, he served under several capacities including as a Minister of Justice and Attorney General and thereafter as Minister for Regional Co-operation. In 1997, Mulenga served as Justice of the Supreme Court before being appointed as Judge of the Arusha-based East African Court of Justice (EACJ) where he also served as President.

At the time of his death, Mulenga was serving on a part-time basis as a judge at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Human rights advocate

In an interview with the Independent magazine in 2009, soon after retiring as Supreme Court Judge – a capacity in which he served under for 12 years, Mulenga said two incidents will forever remain on his mind.

“First, was when the Constitutional Court decided to annul the [2000] referendum [act]. The president was furious and he made inflammatory speeches denouncing the decision. That was followed by some members of the public being mobilised to demonstrate against the judiciary…

“…When the Supreme Court reversed the decision, some people said the speeches and government reaction had influenced us to rule in favour of government. This was not true at all because the Supreme Court took the decision independently and found that the Constitutional Court had been mistaken in its judgment.”

Mulenga added  “The second is the ‘Black Mamba’ incident. The government unleashed armed security operatives on the High Court to prevent an order of that court to release suspects on bail being carried out. In the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Uganda Law Society vs Attorney General, we ruled that the idea of government going around the judiciary and taking civilian suspects to be tried by military courts because it expects military courts to do for it what the civilian courts have not done is unconstitutional. I hope such scenes won’t be repeated.”

Professional experience

1973-1979 President, Uganda Law Society
1973-1979 Member, Judicial Service Committee
1973-1979 Member, Law Council
1973-1979 Chairman, Disciplinary Committee
1973-1979 Member, LDC Management Committee
1975-1977 Vice-Chairman, African Bar Association
1975-1977 Africa Representative, Commonwealth L.B.
1978-1986 Chairman, Professional Centre of Uganda
2002-2009 Chairman, Judicial Integrity Committee

Source: Kampala Associated Advocates

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