Jailed City lawyer Male Mabiriizi

The Buganda Road Grade One Magistrate’s Court has dismissed Male Mabirizi’s application for transfer from Luzira Maximum Security Upper Prison to Kitalya Mini Max Prison. Mabirizi made the application early this week when he appeared before the Buganda Road Court Grade One Magistrate, Sanula Nambozo, where he is battling charges of offensive communication instituted by Robert Rutaro by way of private prosecution.

However, during the court session, Mabirizi informed the court that he was willing to proceed with the case because was not in a proper state of mind due to hunger at Luzira Maximum Security Upper prison where he was taken this week. He also claimed is being persecuted after being taken to Luzira from Kitalya without prior notice. Mabirizi told the magistrate that he had stocked food for ten days, which he left in Kitalya prisons. 

He asked the court to order his transfer to Kitalya or in the alternative be taken to Luzira Murchison Bay Prison to serve his 18 months jail term for contempt of court. However, in her response, the DPP through State Attorney, Joan Keko said Mabirizi’s prayer arises from a civil matter and should be taken to the High Court to enable Uganda Prison Services to get representation through the Attorney General.

In her ruling, Nambozo dismissed the application on grounds that the Uganda Prison Services (UPS) also needed to be heard.  She noted that the UPS was never represented when Mabirizi made his request for transfer, adding that the law requires that a person aggrieved by the actions of a government agency or department can always file a case against the Attorney General.   

She also observed that the Human Rights Enforcement Act provides that if the rights of an accused person are being violated, they can always file an application to the trial office for investigations, which Mabirizi didn’t do. Nambozo also noted that her court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain Mabirizi’s application since the reason that took him to prison stemmed from proceedings, which were already concluded and his appeal is pending before the Court of Appeal.   

Shortly after the magistrate’s decision, Mabirizi made three oral applications. He asked the Magistrate to forward his file to the High Court, which supervises the magistrate’s court to ascertain the right position of the law, direct the Officer in Charge of Luzira Maximum Security Upper Prison to provide him with a mattress, bedsheets and a mosquito net for his own safety.

According to Mabirizi, he is being kept in Ward A2, which he said is an open hall made out of iron bars and mosquitoes have eaten almost every part of his body. He also asked the Court to direct the Officer in Charge of Luzira Maximum Security Upper Prison to provide him with a clock watch to enable him to know the time while in prison and return his Dell laptop, which he can always use under his supervision. 

He also asked the Magistrate to forward the matter to the Constitutional Court for interpretation on whether an order can be made against UPS in a criminal matter without filing a civil or Human Rights case is inconsistent with a number of Constitutional provisions. 

In her response, State Attorney Keko said Mabirizi was delaying the case and wondered how his request for transfer affects the criminal case against him yet he has never been charged formally in the matter before Buganda Road Court. 

She also explained that Mabirizi’s place of residence has nothing to do with them because they know him as a person who is still at large.  Nambozo adjourned the case up to May 6 to deliver her ruling.

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