JUDGEMENT: Supreme Court on Maternal Health Rights
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|Date added||November 3, 2015|
The ruling struck down a judgment in 2012 by Constitutional Court that it had no mandate to hear a case regarding the alleged violation of health rights and the rights of women.
The case had been filed by families of two pregnant women who died in childbirth and the Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) against the Attorney General in 2011 (Constitutional Petition No. 16 of 2011), arguing that non-provision of maternal health services in Uganda violated the Constitution. The Attorney General argued on preliminary objection that issues relating to health rights were “political questions”—matter that the Judiciary had no authority to address. Constitutional Court agreed with the State’s objection and dismissed the case. Today’s ruling struck down the Constitutional Court’s judgment, and means the original case can now be heard on its merits.
In appealing the Constitutional Court ruling, the family members and CEHURD argued before the Supreme Court that the failure to provide the basic maternal health services to pregnant women in Uganda was a human rights issue that the Constitutional Court had the mandate to hear, citing Article 137 (3) of the Constitution, which states that Constitutional Court has the mandate to determine whether any act, law or policy of the government is in violation of any provision of the Constitution.
According to the activists, the Supreme Court decision alters the course of jurisprudence on the right to health in Uganda. The judgment gives women an opportunity to access justice when suffering from lack of access to basic maternal health services.