Judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
over the weekend concluded their ninth ordinary meeting in Arusha, Tanzania.
The court has the responsibility to rule on African countries' compliance with
the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Re-appointment of the Court's
11 judges is expected to take place at next month's African Union Summit in
Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt.
One of the judges, George Kanyeihamba, of
Uganda is claiming that the Ugandan government is blocking his re-election.
article in the Uganda Monitor newspaper earlier this month quoted Ugandan
foreign ministry officials as saying that Judge might use his position at the
African Peoples' Court to embarrass the Ugandan government because of its human
rights record. Judge Kanyeihamba told VOA the Monitor article is accurate.
story as written in the paper seems to be true, but I want to clarify that when
the rumors started circulating, I talked to the minister responsible for
foreign affairs and he denied that he had any knowledge of anyone or any moves
to block my re-election to the African Court. Those who have been following
this matter tell me that this matter, indeed the prime minister himself say
that before it is over, it has to be considered by the cabinet. So I am waiting
to see whether indeed that is the position," he said.
said Ugandan Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi and Justice and Constitutional
Affairs Minister Kidhu Makubuya both wrote letters to the African Union
Commission supporting his candidature for re-election.
Kanyeihamba denied any suggestion that the government might be trying to block
his re-election because the role he might have played in the Ugandan Supreme
Court's decision pertaining to a petition brought by opposition leader Kizza
Besigye to nullify the election of President Yoweri Museveni in 2001 and 2006.
me also clarify that. The government has never had any problem with my
dissenting judgment. Incidentally there was a mistake in the 2001 petition
appeal. Only five judges participated because we were seven, it had to be a
quorum of either five or seven. I did participate in the 2006 petition appeal
and indeed I was one of the three judges that dissented and said that may be
the breaches of the law concerned and the event that had taken place during the
election were sufficient for us to say the election should be nullified and we
should hold another one," Kanyeihamba.
said he deserves to be re-elected because he has made enormous contribution to
protecting human rights not only in Uganda but around Africa.
people in Uganda believe that I have made contributions to this country and to
the region, and I deserve to continue advising Africa on human rights affairs.
They think that I have something to contribute to the African jurisprudence, of
human rights, and of international law," he said.
said he has no doubt that he would be re-elected if his candidature came before
the African Union. But he said in order for that to happen, it must first be
supported by the Ugandan government.
said the matter of his re-election has gone much higher from the Ugandan
foreign ministry to possibly the Ugandan cabinet.
it is the ministry of foreign affairs which has been trying to block my
re-election, according to the news article. But it is now much higher than
that. As I told you the Prime Minister say it may have to go to the cabinet. So
I think it is now being considered by authorities higher than the minister
concerned. The only think I can say, which obviously is a barrier is that as
far as the AU Commission is concerned, they only get messages of Uganda through
the ministry of foreign affairs. So if foreign affairs would continue to
sabotage my candidature, the African Union Commission would be in a quandary,"
Judge Kanyeihamba said he was
surprised that his re-election must now be approved by the Ugandan cabinet
when, he said, the cabinet had nothing to with his election. Kanyeihamba hoped
Ugandan President Museveni would step in to quickly resolve the issue of his