Jobless Youth Reject Trial Magistrate

2160 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
In his letter to the Chief Magistrate Jamson Karemani, Lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde files a complaint of judicial misconduct of the presiding magistrate Beatrice Khainza who he accuses of openly threatening and embarrassing his clients Norman Tumuhimbise and Robert Mayanja.

The lawyer representing two jobless youth charged with holding a pig protest at Parliament last year is seeking re-assignment of the case to another magistrate citing professional misconduct.

The case is currently being handled by magistrate Beatrice Khainza at Kampala's City Hall Magistrate Court.

In his letter to the Chief Magistrate Jamson Karemani that URN has seen, Lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde filed a complaint of judicial misconduct of the presiding magistrate Khainza who he accuses of openly threatening and embarrassing his clients Norman Tumuhimbise and Robert Mayanja.

"She moved up to our client and talked to him for about ten minutes in a way that was rude, threatening and embarrassing, charging him at the top of her voice with 'bringing the press to her court' as 'if that would bar her from convicting him and his co-accused," reads part of the letter.

Lawyer Ssemakadde also alleges that magistrate Khainza noted that the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe had personally called and cautioned her over the constant media coverage of the "yellow pigs" trial.

He alleges that the magistrate reported the Chief Justice saying that many other stakeholders were uncomfortable with continued broadcasts of yellow pigs and court yet she was doing nothing about it as if she were happy to market herself through the trial.

"consequently, she intimated to our clients that external pressure on her from the Chief Justice and other stakeholders had become too much and if our clients persisted in bringing the media, she would be left with no option but to conduct the rest of the proceedings in secrecy", reads another part of the letter.

Lawyer Ssemakadde requested the Chief Magistrate Jamson Karemani to take action under Section 221 of the Magistrates Courts Act to redeem the independence and impartiality of the trial court and ensure that justice prevails in the case.

In an interview with URN, Buganda Road Chief Magistrate Jamson Karemani Karemera said that he had a discussion with Magistrate Beatrice Khainza on how she was conducting the proceedings following the letter. He also noted that this discussion was still ongoing.

He also noted that he is in the process of writing back to the lawyer since they normally encourage lawyers if they have issues with any court to raise the issues in the very court where they are so that the person concerned can give a ruling on the matter.

Chief Magistrate Karemani also told URN that the discussion he has so far had with magistrate Khainza, she had not yet expressed discomfort in handling the case.

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On allegations of the Chief Justice interfering with the case proceedings, Karemani said that magistrate Khainza had not made any report about the issue. He also said that this remains an allegation since the lawyer has not yet been contacted to verify this.

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Judiciary's Senior Communications officer, Solomon Muyita also confirmed a stand-off between sections of the media, lawyers in regard to the case being handled by magistrate Khainza at the City Hall magistrates' court.

He noted that the magistrate handling the matter had not asked the media not to cover the case but requested that she does not appear in the footage of media reports.

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He also noted that the chief justice had not directed the magistrate on how to conduct business in her conduct. Muyita told URN that according to discussions so far held between magistrate Khainza and Chief magistrate Karemani, Khainza had been misquoted on the matter to do with the Chief Justice.

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About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.