New bill to protect Witnesses drafted
In a bid to improve access to justice, Uganda law reform commission has drafted a witness protection bill 2015.
The commission led by the chairperson Vastina Rukimirana Nsanze this morning presented the bill before the members of parliament on legal and parliament affairs committee and human rights committee of parliament.
Among the key aspects in the bill is that the bill provide the creation of an independent agency that will be in charge of protecting the witness including re-location, change of name or even identity where the witnesses life might be in question.
The commission also says that it will be criminal to expose the identity of witnesses before the press under the program and the agency is going to be allowed to acquire fire arms and ammunition to be used in protecting witnesses.
The principal legal officer at law commission Jackie Akuno says that they also police to stop interviewing witnesses in public to ensure they protect their identities.
Opening the joint meeting between the two committees and the commission, the deputy speaker Jacob Oulanyah said the bill is very important and must be treated with urgency.
He says that it important to protect the lives of witnesses and even their families.
The Mitooma woman mp Jovah Kamateeka who chairs the human rights committee says that the bill will go in a long way in fighting mob justice and ensuring justice for the victims.
However, legislators including Veronica Bitekyero, Jackson Kafuuzi, and Robert Kyagulanyi of Kyadondo East pointed out loopholes in the bill that need to be fixed.
These say that the commission should concentrate on amending the police act to give police more powers in protection of witnesses saying that starting up another agency will only create more friction among government agencies.