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Letter to the family of Betty Katusabe (RIP)

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First published on September 1, 2016 by Change of Guards blog

Please accept my deep condolence for the loss of Betty Katusabe (RIP) at the hands of a breakdown of law and order.  I say so because where there is law and order, police officers don’t arrest people over debts unless they are executing a Court Order.  Worse still even when the police arrests, they take the suspects to the police station and not to the offices of the complainants as was the case in the murder case of Katusabe.  More worse, no police officer would find the victim in eminent danger of death from torture and cheer on before simply walking away leaving the victim to be killed shortly after.

I appreciate the efforts you have been making to have the perpetrators brought to justice.  In the same regard, may you accept my sincere sympathies for the pressure behind your recent misguided appeal to the DPP to drop murder charges against SP Baguma. On the other hand your actions are helping to bring to light the characteristics of a breakdown in law and order.

It is against this background that I wish to share with you a few facts pertaining to the criminal justice system of a civilised society as follows:

  1. CRIME

A crime is an act declared so by the law and punishable by the state.  It is also called an offence or a criminal offence and is considered an act harmful not only to an individual, some individuals, but also to a community, society or state thus its a public wrong.

  1. CRIMINAL LAW

Also called Penal Law is a body of laws that relate to crime.  In Uganda, the main collection of criminal law is found in the Penal Code Act.  It regulates social conduct and prescribes whatever is threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property, health, safety and moral welfare of people.  It includes the punishment of people who violate these laws.  It lays down the minimum standard of behaviour for citizens of a given state.

  1. TYPES OF CRIMINAL OFFENCES

Criminal offences are classified are classified into three categories namely:

(a)  Infractions/violations – these are petty offences usually punishable by fines but not jail.

(b)  Misdemeanour   –  these are criminal offences that carry up to a year in jail with alternative punishments of fine, probation, caution, community service etc.  Such offences are simple assault, theft, etc.

(c)  Felonies         –  this is the most serious type of criminal offence.  It involves physical harm or threat of harm to victims.  Also, white collar crimes like Fraud, forgery, offences against the state, etc. fall in this  category.  Felonies attract serious sentences like life imprisonment and death.

  1. PURPOSE OF CRIMINAL LAW

The purpose of criminal law is to protect society by facilitating the detection and prosecution of criminal actions while protecting the rights of the accused.  It is also the means through which the state prosecutes and punishes individuals charged with violating the law.  Usually a wronged party feels the moral obligation to seek revenge and a functioning criminal justice system will help relieve you such obligation by acting on your behalf by forbidding you from taking such revenge by ensuring that any wrong does not call for an escalating war of retribution.

It keeps law and order in society and lessen the harm individuals may cause to one another by delivering justice for all through correcting and punishing the guilty thus helping them to stop offending again while at the same time protecting the innocent.  It aims at achieves retribution so that the offender suffers for having breaking the law, deterrence of other members of society from committing similar offences, incapacitating  and rehabilitation of the offender.

  1. CRIMINAL JUSTICE

This is a system of practise and institutions of government directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties.  Those accused of crime are also protected against abuse of investigatory and prosecutory powers under the principle of Presumption of innocence and burden of proof.  The responsible institutions of government are the Legislature that makes criminal laws, the police and DPP who investigate and prosecute respectively, the Courts that adjudicate, and the Correction (jail, prisons, probation, etc.).

  1. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

This is the adjudication process of criminal law that begins with the criminal charge, trial, conviction or acquittal of the accused.  In Uganda, the Police arrests and investigates with guidance of the DPP who is charged with conducting prosecutions while the courts of law conducts the trial.  The nature of criminal charges is determined by the evidence on record and during the trial the prosecution carries the burden of proving the accused’s guilt (burden of Proof) because not until court finds him/her guilty, he/she is presumed to be innocent (Presumption of Innocence).  It guards against the wrongful conviction or maltreatment of those accused of criminal wrong doing. This is what civilized societies call Rule of Law.

  1. CIVIL LAW

While criminal law deals with matters affecting public order thus wrongs committed against the stat, relationships between individuals are taken care under the private law called civil law.  Examples of private law include law of tort, family law, law of property, and breaches of contract which are enforced by courts without involving the state (DPP and police).  This is the law under which Ssebuwufu ought to have sought relief if he had not been instigated by SP Baguma.

Its under the same law that the family and dependants of the late Katusabe will seek relief in form of compensation from the accused by way of commencing civil proceedings in the event that the later will have been convicted.  Since the law exonerates the police from the actions of individual police officers, even if SP Baguma and other officers will be convicted, the family of Katusabe will proceed against him as an individual and not the state.

  1. CRIMINAL OMISSION

In criminal law an omission will constitute an actus reus (guilty act – physical element of committing a crime) and give rise to criminal liability only when the law imposes a duty to act and the defendant is in breach of that duty.  Prosecution only needs to prove that the defendant was aware of the duty to act and in R Vs Mitter (1983) 2 AC 161 it was held that a person who creates a dangerous situation may be under a duty to take reasonable steps to avert it.  As a police officer, SP Baguma deployed his officers to arrest Katusabe and deliver her to Ssebuwufu’s office and it was not by co-incidence that later on he went to the same office and found the deceased being physically tortured and did nothing to take reasonable steps to avert her killing.

Therefore, by the time the DPP chose to prefer Murder charges against Baguma for murder of Betty Katusabe, he had the evidence.  It is most likely that no family member of the deceased is even a witness in the murder charge against Bagume and others thus you have no role in the entire trial.  May be to guard the tomb where the deceased was buried because some cadre Judge may order for another postmortem when the body will have already been stolen from the grave.

The State through the DPP is trying to carry out its cardinal duty of protecting society from wrong doers thus Uganda Vs SP Baguma and others and not the family of the late Katusabe against Baguma thus we all have a stake in the matter because if not deterred Bgauma’s next victim wont necessarily be from your family but any other member of society.  Its only in infractions/violations which are minor offences where it has been a practice to allow the parties to reconcile by way of recording an additional statement by the complainant expressing his wish to reconcile with the accused.  Such offences are commonly referred to as Minor Offences thus they are even statutorily handled by village local council committees.  Once the reconciliation process is initiated, the matter is closed but this does not apply to felonies as is the case with the murder charges facing Baguma and others.

Have you bothered to find out who sent the police officers to arrest Katusabe and take her to Ssebuwufu’s office!  Where are the officers who carried out the arrest? Was it by coincidence that Baguma went to Ssebuwufu’s Office at the time when the deceased was being tortures?  The DPP has answers to all such questions and court will evaluate the evidence available.  Remember the office of the DPP is constitutionally independent and your attempt to influence, interfere and blackmail it may amount to obstruction of justice.  The evidence incriminating Baguma is in possession of some of the accused already on remand and others still at large being shielded by IGP Kalekyezi and not you the relatives of the deceased.

By your acceptance to be manipulated by the regime to shamelessly act out of ignorance over SP Baguma’s innocence, you are making  fools of yourselves.  Your alleged Baguma’s role in rejuvenating the case was nothing but a criminal deception that is commonly referred to as Rwicha Ruhoze in Kinyarwanda or Okutoreza n’ababwibire in Runyankole.  Moreover, the success of the entire case lies on the misunderstanding between the DPP and the Police and  when Museveni intervenes, the two agencies will work together to kill the case a few years from now once the dust will have settled down. Moreover, Baguma may not be residing in prison; a special privilege non of you may ever enjoy.

INFORMATION IS POWER AND DEFIANCE IS THE WAY TO GO

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