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Court Finds Rwanda in Breach of EAC Treaty over Citizen's Detention / Says Kenyan terror suspects case can proceed, rules on election of Ugandan EALA Members

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, December 2, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice Thursday declared that the detention of the Lt. Col Rugigana Ngabo by the agents of the Government of Rwanda was in breach of the fundamental and operational principles of the East African Community.

Hon. Justice Johnston Busingye (Principal Judge), Hon. Lady Justice Mary Stella Arach Amoko (Deputy Principal Judge), Hon. M. Justice John Mukwawa and Hon. Mr. Justice Bosco Butasi as such ordered Rwanda to pay the costs for the unlawful and arbitrary action to the applicant, Plaxeda Rugumba, who is a sister to Lt. Col. Ngabo.

The First Instance Division of the Court said the act of detaining Lt. Col. Ngabo from August 2010 to January 2011 offended Articles 6 (d) and 7(2) of the Treaty; the latter which demands that “Partner States shall be bound by the principles of inter alia, good governance and the rule of law”.

The Court also declared that the five-month detention of Lt. Col. Ngabo was unlawful according to the laws of Rwanda, and declared that the continued detention of the subject without trial in a competent court was a breach of the laws of the Republic of Rwanda. The country's laws provide that any person arrested shall not be detained beyond 48 hours without being produced before a court of law.

Satisfied, however, that the EAC Secretary General was not aware of this matter, the First Instance Division dismissed an application against the Secretary General regarding his purported failure to investigate Rwanda's breach of the EAC Treaty as required by Article 29 of the same.

Meanwhile in a case involving Kenyan citizens suspected of engaging in terrorist activities in Uganda, the Court dismissed an objection raised by the respondents; namely the Attorneys General of the Republics of Kenya and Uganda as well as the EAC Secretary General, that the case was filed outside the two month timeframe within which the applicants were supposed to as provided for by the Treaty and thus decided the case would proceed.

Court rules on election of Ugandan EALA Members of Parliament

Earlier on Wednesday the East African Court of Justice ordered that the Parliament of Uganda includes in its rules of procedure provisions that allow the election of representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) from as much as it is feasible, the various political parties represented in the National Assembly—as stipulated in Article 50 of the Treaty.

The order follows a case filed in August by the Democratic Party of Uganda challenging the rules of the Parliament of Uganda which provide for numerical strength as the basis for representation. The Democratic Party filed the case against the Attorney General of the Republic of Uganda, the Parliament of Uganda and the EAC Secretary General.

About the EACJ

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or 'the Court'), is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Established in November 2001, the Court's major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty.

Arusha is the temporary seat of the Court until the Summit determines its permanent seat. The High Courts of the Partner States serve as sub-registries.