The Ugandan judiciary says it has received a petition lodged by opposition leader Kizza Besigye against the Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma and will look into it.
“The Judicial Service Commission has received a complaint against deputy Chief Justice Kavuma. It will be looked into,” Solomon Muyita, the Judiciary Communications officer, said Monday while appearing on NBS television.
In a letter dated June 16, Besigye claims Kavuma’s professionalism is compromised and asked the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to investigate his suitability as a justice of the Court of Appeal/Constitutional Court.
Written from Luzira prison where he is currently on remand for treason charges, Besigye’s five-page letter alleges that Justice Kavuma is working on President Yoweri Museveni’s orders.
The letter cites improper conduct, abuse of office, neglect of duty and maladministration by Justice Kavuma.
“The conduct of Mr Steven Kavuma, over the years since he joined the Judiciary, was initially frequently suspicious, then later frequently outrageous and currently, predominantly improper to point of going against the oaths and the standards expected of such a judicial officer…
“….Kavuma’s appointment was initially treated with suspicion given his close links with the Executive. He did not disappoint critics as he proceeded to frequently dissent in judgments where human rights, civil or political liberties were at stake on account of excesses of the Executive,” the letter reads in parts.
Besigye asked the JSC to investigate the cases highlighted above with a view to determining whether Kavuma is fit to remain in office and discharge functions of a justice of appeal.
JSC Secretary, Kagole Kivumbi, told Daily Monitor he had received Besigye’s complaint against Justice Kavuma.
He said the letter addressed to the chairperson of the commission who has not yet been appointed since the retirement of Justice James Ogoola in February.
Appearing on NBS TV this morning, Muyita, the judiciary spokesperson, said Ugandans can directly write to Chief Justice Bart Katureebe to lodge any complaints against any judicial officers.
“If you are unhappy about the outcome, appeal. That is why we have an appeal system. The judiciary is open. That’s why we allow cameras into courts for live coverage.”
He said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) currently has no chairperson but public can still lodge complaints.
“Once we have a chair, they will be handled.”
Besigye faults Justice Kavuma for having sat as a single judge in 2014 and reversed the orders of Judge Lydia Mugambe over the reinstatement of Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago to City Hall.
Justice Kavuma’s order banned Dr Besigye and the FDC party from engaging in demonstrations, processions, public meetings, media campaigns and pronouncements related to the use of the word ‘defiance’ in the weekly prayers.
Justice Kavuma’s included Justice Richard Buteera on the panel of five justices that will hear the defiance campaign case, the same Buteera, who while still Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), wrongfully charged Besigye with rape and treason.
Last week, Kavuma said the court was going to sit for consultations after adjourning the defiance case without setting the date for hearing.
FDC deputy Secretary General Harold Kaija says in normal circumstances, the court adjourns the case and the date of next hearing is state.