Kampala, Friday 9th November 2018
HRAPF SUPPORTS THE CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE TO THE ‘IDLE AND DISORDERLY’ LAWS
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) supports the petition challenging Section 168 (1) (c) and (d) of the Penal Code Act, which is part of the offences that form the ‘idle and disorderly’ family of laws. The petition, Francis Tumwesige Ateenyti v Attorney General, Constitutional Petition No. 36 of 2018, was filed by human rights lawyer, Francis Tumwesige Ateenyi, represented by Advocates from Rwakafuuzi & Co. Advocates and Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF).
HRAPF supports the petition as part of its campaign against petty offences, including the ‘idle and disorderly’ offences. These offences criminalise poverty and are discriminatory and thus not justifiable in a free and democratic society. In 2016, HRAPF conducted a study on how these laws are enforced. The study found that the provisions give those with the mandate to enforce them, the power to misuse them, and impact negatively on the poor and marginalised members of our society. The study was based on the enforcement of these laws in Kampala district over the period 2011 to 2015. This study has been used as part of the evidence in the petition.
These laws on their own are discriminatory as they criminalise people based on their social-economic status and thus do not meet the constitutional guarantees of equality before and under the law. They are also too vague and wide sweeping and thus fail to meet the constitutional requirement for a criminal offence to be defined. Their enforcement also violates a myriad of rights including the right to liberty. It is upon this background that we support the constitutional challenge to these laws.
Taking human rights to all