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On May 30, 2013, the students enrolled in the Clinical Legal Education course through the Public Interest Law Clinic at MUK concluded their semester course with oral presentations of the cases and projects they had worked on during the semester. The 15 students presented before a panel of distinguished experts on a variety of pertinent national human rights issues.
Amongst the types of cases and projects assigned to students this semester included: a review of the Penal Code Act to make recommendations for reforms; a study on land evictions in Uganda; completing a critical analysis of the Anti-counterfeit bill in light of international human rights standards; and legal research on a number of public interest litigation cases addressing social and economic rights. All cases and projects address live legal, public interest law issues whereby the work of the students is intended to be adopted or applied directly to ongoing litigation and advocacy on these issues.
The expert panel was asked to assess the students written and oral presentations and overall performance. The panel included: James Nkuubi of HURINET, Nakibuuka Noor Musisi of CEHURD, Nabulime Diana of LBT, Salima Namusobya of ISER, Magelah Peter of ACODE, Achaloi Jenipher of HURINET, and Isaac Ssemakadde, advocate.
Student Presentations on Cases & Projects
Group One handled a data protection case related to the SIM-card registration process by tele-communication companies. The case highlights the need for the adoption of an enabling law or appropriate regulations prior to such actions in order to avoid inter alia the violation of the right to privacy and data rights of telephone users.
The legislative bill handled by the group was the Penal Code Act, which is before Parliament for amendment. The group argues that the Code should be brought in line with the Constitution by “weeding out” sections that have already been declared unconstitutional by the courts, as well as to repeal or amend provisions inconsistent with the Constitution.
Group Two prepared a draft report on land evictions taking place in Uganda, highlighting the human rights implications of such practices and suggesting areas for reform. The report will serve to conduct outreach and advocacy on the issue.
The group also prepared a legal memo on a case involving the Uganda Museum, which was not heard on its merits due to lack of sufficient statutory notice pursuant to the Laws of Uganda making it a mandatory requirement prior to filing suit against the Government. The group argued that the requirement is inconsistent with Article 126(2)e of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda and thus should be removed not only for public interest cases, but also in other civil matters.
Group Three presented on the appeal of the CEHURD & others V. Attorney General case that was dismissed by the Constitutional Court without being heard on its merits on the reasoning that the case raises questions that are political in nature barring courts from hearing it.
The group’s presentation on the Anti-Counterfeit Bill recommended the inclusiveness of the definition of counterfeit goods used in the bill and suggested that an independent body, other than the already very busy UNBS, be established for purposes of enforcement, amongst others.***
This is the second batch of students that have gone through the new CLE course launched by the Public Interest Law Clinic at MUK law school since its establishment in January 2012. The students’ work continues to have a noticeable and direct impact on topical and pertinent human rights issues and developments in the country. Meanwhile, students continue to attest to the merits of the course in terms of the unique practical, legal experience gained as well as a reinforced commitment to pursuing public interest law in their future careers.