The judgment struck down a 2012 ruling by the 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.
The Supreme Court’s ruling struck down the Constitutional Court’s judgment, and means the original case can now be heard on its merits.
“With great respect to the Constitutional Court, I think they misunderstood what was required of the court. I do not think the court was required to determine, formulate or implement the health policies of government. In my view, the court is required to determine whether the government has provided or taken all practical measures to ensure the basic medical services to the population. In this case it is maternal services in issue” Bart M Katureebe, Chief Justice
Today information about the global community is continuously becoming more available yet the space to access information supposedly closer to us and about issues that affect us more directly becomes narrower and narrower. But just to what extent is one entitled to know about activities that go on in their backyard that significantly impact their livelihood when they have no proprietary rights in said activities. Human lives and health are significantly affected by the nature of their environment and the activities that are carried out in their environments and the government has through the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) set up measures to ensure that the environment is not affected by any activities including by requiring impact assessments before such activities are carried out.
Until 16th July 2014, it was unheard of in Uganda’s human rights jurisprudence for a judicial officer in Uganda to visit to location of an alleged human rights violation to contextualize for himself what the circumstances in which the violation is alleged to have occurred. Such was the occasion at Nakaseke District hospital at 10.00am when Hon. Benjamin Kabiito visited the Hospital to ascertain the circumstances under which Nanteza Irene died after failing to access emergency obstetric care she needed to give birth to her baby.
The validity of the Anti Homosexuality Act has been successfully challenged in the Constitutional Petition No. 8 of 2014 which was filed by Prof. Joe Oloka-Onyango, veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda, Prof. Morris Ogenga Latigo, Dr. Paul Nsubuga Ssemugoma, Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera, Julian Pepe onziema, Frank Mugisha, Human Rights Awareness & Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and Center for Health, Human Rights & Development (CEHURD).
The case was heard by a panel of five judges and the judgement was read by his Lordship, Eldad Mwangusya while the decision was read by the acting Chief Justice, Steven Kavuma.