Court clears Ugandans in Diaspora, prisoners to vote
By Monitor Reporter
The High Court in Kampala has allowed Ugandans in the Diaspora and prisoners, to be involved in the voting of their leaders during general elections. The Wednesday decision by Justice Lydia Mugambe, ends the 25- year ban on the voting rights of prisoners and Ugandans in the Diaspora.
Mr Steven Kalali was the applicant while the Attorney General and the Electoral Commission were the respondents. Justice Mugambe, therefore has ordered: “As citizens, Ugandans of eighteen years and above who are in prison or the diaspora have the right to vote under article 59 of the Constitution.”
She said that even a comparative analysis demonstrates that several other democracies enforce the right to vote for prisoners and those in the Diaspora. She cited countries like South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia that allow these categories of citizens to vote.
She said: “The Electoral Commission’s conduct of depriving them of this right is illegal as it infringes their rights in violation of articles 1, 59 and 21 of the Constitution.”
Justice Mugambe directed the EC to accordingly comply with its obligation under Article 59 clause 3, to which, take all necessary steps to ensure that as citizens who were affected by this ban, they register and exercise their right to vote.
Ugandans of eighteen years and above who are in prison or the Diaspora have the right to vote under Article 59 of the Constitution.
She said that by disenfranchising these Ugandans, there is also a violation of Article 1 of the Constitution which stipulates that all power belongs to the people who exercise their sovereignty in accordance with the Constitution and that all authority in the state emanates from the people of Uganda.