Practice Relating to Rule 99. Deprivation of Liberty
Section D. Prompt appearance before a judge or judicial officer
Uganda’s National Resistance Army Statute (1992) provides for the punishment of the person subject to military law who fails to bring a detained person’s case before the proper authority for investigation.
Uganda’s Defence Forces Act (2005) provides:
190. Report of delay of trial
(1) Where a person triable under military law has been placed under arrest for a service offence and remains in custody for forty-eight hours without his or her trial by a military court having commenced, his or her commanding officer shall make a report to the Service Chief of Personnel and Administration and the Services Chief Political Commissar stating the reasons for delaying the trial and shall release the prisoner on a conditional bond after seventy two hours.
(2) A person held in custody in the circumstances mentioned in sub-section (1) who has been continuously so held for twenty eight days without commencement of his or her trial by a military court, may, at the expiration of that period, petition the President or such other authority as the President may appoint in writing for that purpose, to be released from custody or for the disposal of the case.
(3) A person held in custody in the circumstances mentioned in sub-section (1) shall be freed by his or her commanding officer when a period of ninety days continuous custody from the time of arrest has expired unless his or her trial by a military court has commenced.
(6) The conditional bond under subsection (1) and subsection (3) shall not apply in the case of a person held in custody for the purpose of trial for an offence punishable with death or a term of imprisonment exceeding five years.
Uganda’s ICC Act (2010) states: “A person arrested under section 26 [Request for arrest and surrender] or 29 [Provisional arrest] shall be brought before a Registrar [of the High Court] within 48 hours.”
In the Cherop case before the Uganda Human Rights Commission at Kampala in 2004, the complainant was a sergeant of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) who was detained by the UPDF intelligence after allegedly “disappearing with a firearm”. The Commission stated:
According to the evidence, Jackson Cherop was detained from February 17, to March 28, 2000 which is a period of 39 days. Article 23(4) of the Constitution provides as follows:
23(4) A person arrested or detained –
(b) Upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Uganda, shall, if not earlier released, be brought to Court as soon as possible but in any case not later than forty-eight (48) hours from the time of his or her arrest.
The detention of Cherop for 39 days without charge in a Court of law breached this constitutional provision and was therefore illegal and a violation of his right to personal liberty. In the same vein it constituted a violation of his right to personal liberty because the detention violated the procedural rights guaranteed by Article 23 which is that persons detained on suspicion that they have committed an offence must be charged within forty-eight hours.