Constitutional Court Nullifies Public Order Management Act, POMA
The Constitutional Court has nullified section 8 of the Public Order Management Act, POMA by majority decision of 4:1. The four Justices are Kenneth Kakuru, Elizabeth Musoke and Cheboroin Barishaki and Geoffrey Kiryabwire while Stephen Musota was the only dissenting Justice.
Court reasons that stifling democracy is bad for the economy, so the issue of protecting trades was just an excuse.
Section 8 states that; i. Subject to the directions of the Inspector General of Police, an authorized officer or any other police officer of or above the rank of inspector, may stop or prevent the holding of a public meeting where the public meeting is held contrary to this act.ii. An authorized officer may, for the purpose of subsection (i), issue orders including an order for the dispersal of the public meeting, as are reasonable in the circumstances.
iii. An authorized officer shall, in issuing an order, under subsection (ii) have regard to the rights and freedoms of the persons in respect of whom the order has been issued and the rights and freedoms of other persons.
iv. A person who neglects or refuses to obey an order under this section commits the offence of disobedience of lawful orders and is liable on conviction to the penalty for that offence under section 117 of the Penal Code Act.
The case was filed by Human Rights Network Uganda, Uganda Association of Female Lawyers, and Bishop Dr. Zac Niringiye among others, against the Attorney General.
In their ruling, the Justices decided that Section 8 of the Public Order Management Act, POMA is unconstitutional and declared it null and void.
“All acts done under that law are hereby declared null and void” they ruled.
Several opposition leaders including Dr. Kiiza Besigye, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi among others have severally been arrested and held under the law.