The civilized, proper, ideal, legal and constitutional way of doing these things is that evidence should be gathered first and then followed by an arrest and arraignment, plus, if necessary, remanding of the suspect to prison. Yet in Ugandan case, many times a mere suspicion can lead to arrest, arraignment and even remanding of a suspect in absence of any iota of evidence itself.
It’s also a well known cardinal principal of law that he or she who alleges must prove what they allege, presupposing that proper investigations must be carried out first before the processes of arrest and arraignment or even remanding themselves are executed as opposed to police arresting first and then proceeding to carry out the necessary investigations.
By persistently putting the horse before the cart, so to speak, the government has ended up doing a great deal of injustice to suspects, keeping them on remand for long spells of time and, on other occasions, making them to unnecessarily move back and forth to court for a couple of years before they can conclude investigations and or even until after the state decides to terminate the cases for lack of evidence.
The Case at Hand
In a startling revelation of procedural mishandling within the Ugandan judiciary, a recurring trend of arrests preceding evidence gathering has surfaced, casting doubts on the constitutional integrity of legal proceedings. The case of Dr. David Balondemu, Chairman of the Kampala District Land Board, has exemplified this troubling pattern.
Balondemu, embroiled in a series of allegations ranging from gold-related charges to purported tender brokering, faced a harrowing situation last week. Despite the absence of concrete evidence and a confession from the prosecution side acknowledging the unreadiness of investigations, the trial magistrate chose to remand Balondemu and his co-accused without considering the option of bail, a move incongruent with Chief Justice directives advocating for justified reasons when denying bail.
Notably, Balondemu’s previous arrest on gold-related charges was heavily scrutinized, debunked as baseless, and akin to a witch-hunt. However, recent developments echo a familiar tune, raising suspicions of a recurrence.
The judiciary’s role in upholding the sanctity of the legal process has come under fire. While the State has the prerogative to press charges, it’s imperative not to abuse this right by levying frivolous accusations, wasting court resources, and transforming trials into prolonged witch-hunts.
The demand for swift and just trials has gained momentum, emphasizing the need for evidence presentation by the prosecution to substantiate the charges. The judiciary must vehemently demand evidence to ensure a fair trial, uphold justice, and prevent undue delays that incarcerate suspects without cause.
The urgency to expedite trials, facilitated by robust evidence presentation, becomes paramount to prevent accusations of collusion and to serve the ends of justice. The need for a timely resolution has been underscored to dismiss unsubstantiated charges and restore faith in the judicial system.
As the case unfolds, the spotlight remains on the judiciary to ensure due process, uphold constitutional rights, and set a precedent that reinforces the principle of innocence until proven guilty. The public’s trust in the legal framework hinges on the judiciary’s unwavering commitment to fair trials based on evidence and constitutional principles
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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