Jailed former Makerere researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi has filed a complaint to the Judicial Service Commission [JSC] against the prisons’ failure to produce her in court for sentencing.
Nyanzi who was sentenced to 18 months for cyber harassment against President Museveni, expected to be taken to Buganda Road Court but was instead subjected to video conferencing at Luzira prisons.
The video link to court on August was transmitted from a studio in the male section of the prison which Stella objected.
In a letter to the Commissioner General Prisons, John Byabashaija, Dr Nyanzi’s lawyers led by Isaac Ssemakadde say prisons authorities have subjected Stella to punishment without due process and exposed her to abuse in prison.
“The impugned magistrate ignored our client’s objections and protestations of the strange and frightening procedures that were abruptly adopted by the court on 2 August 2019,” the lawyers wrote to JSC.
“The impugned conduct violates the canons of independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety, equality and competence and diligence as presented in the Uganda Code of Judicial Conduct.”
Nyanzi wants the matter investigated and Her Worship Gladys Kamasanyu disciplined for breach of code of conduct.
Rosebell Kagumire, a Pan Africanist, feminist, agitator and editor, says a few days ago, the Prisons Public Relations officer told media that the prisons would punish Stella over her conduct during her sentencing.
“Making prisoners appear before courts via video links is being challenged as a tool being used to violate rights. If indeed Stella appeared before court as the magistrate read her sentence, why would prison authorities punish Stella for alleged actions during a sentencing,” she said.
According to Kagumire, this is exposing Uganda’s injustice system.
She said under the 2016 Judicature rules; the video-audio link is to be used in adducing of evidence.
“But increasingly the judiciary is accepting this tool to deny prominent figures appearing in court. Bobi Wine was also not produced in court physically.”