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PRESSURE CONTINUES TO MOUNT ON UGANDAN GOVERNMENT AS RELIGIOUS LEADERS, ACTIVISTS AND POLITICIANS PETITION THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ON LEGALITY OF CLOSURE OF PLACES OF WORSHIP
By Tendo Anne | 08 September 2021
A group of religious leaders, activists and politicians has petitioned the Constitutional Court of Uganda challenging the constitutionality of the continued closure of places of worship despite the reopening of other public places amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group comprising of Pr. Michael Kiganda, Sheikh Asuman Lule Ssemakula and Bishop Mugabi Livingston – religious leaders, Evelyne Naikoba – a lawyer and advocate for religious freedoms, and Dr. Lina Zedriga, Hon. Alice Alaso and Hon. Ronald Balimwezo Nsubuga – politicians, has, through their lawyers at Cymbell Advocates, asked the Constitutional Court to declare Rules 11 and 13 of the Public Health (Control of Covid-19) Rules, S.I No. 38 of 2021 unconstitutional. The said contentious rules gave legal effect to the President’s declarations in his speeches on June 18th and July 31st suspending the operation of places of worship and the holding of prayers in public spaces.
The petitioners contend that the continued lockdown of places of worship under these rules while other public spaces continue to operate is in contravention of Articles 21, 29(1)(c), 45 and 286 of the 1995 Constitution.
The case which was filed on the 31st of August 2021 becomes the third case that has been brought against the Ugandan government in a space of one month, for clamping down on religious freedoms under the guise of controlling the pandemic. Whereas the Ministry of Health’s permanent secretary, Dr. Musenero, has recently brushed off the demands by assuring religious leaders of financial support, the continued pressure from different leaders and believers seems to indicate that there are growing numbers of people that genuinely want places of worship to be reopened like all other public places in Uganda are.