Reported by Karen Saidi - Law Tutor

Local residents would have been surprised had they been inside Luzira’s Maximum Security Prison on 26th February 2018. Ushered into a lecture hall within prison grounds were about one hundred of the most diverse people one could find, all united for one cause – the enjoyment of fine legal arguments and the ancient medieval skill of mooting.

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There was lots of laughter and new friends were made at the African Prisons Project 1st Inaugural Moot Court between Makerere University and the University of London LLB students from Luzira Upper Prison. This was as a result of the hard work of African Prisons Project Head of Legal Sharon Twikirize, Senior Law Tutor Karen Saidi, Law Tutors Milly Kakungulu, Emmanuel Oteng and Legal Intern Bruce Twongirwe.

Squared off against each other were two teams of four from Makerere University Mooting Society and from African Prisons Project’s University of London Distance Learning Law Degree (Team UoL).

The case under consideration on this occasion was a hypothetical application to a generic National Human Rights Court brought by a fictional Human Rights NGO against a made up State. The charges – Violations to the Right to Life, Freedom from Torture and the Right to Marry and find a Family.

Arguing for the fictional NGO was the Makerere Team comprised of Aaron Joel Kaleba, Geoffrey Kaddu, Kisakye Moses and Atwine Rehema.

On the side for the State were John Bosco Oryem, Patrick Makokha, Pascal Kakuru and Christine Naigaga assisted with research by Babra Nakanwagi, Anthony Ssemakula, Paul Kakubi , Ismail Mutebi, Betty Mbatudde and Sowedi Sserinya.

The Judicial Panel comprised of Ibrahim Rukundo, Legal Officer of Uganda Prisons Services Headquarters (presiding), ably assisted by Dr. Fred Sekindi of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative and Leonard Businge of Kampala Associated Advocates.

Although slightly delayed, the wait was worth it as the two parties came out like seasoned boxers ready to battle it out.

Makerere, as applicants, presented first and found themselves being grilled by the Judges on points of law that Aaron Joel of their team inventively dealt with. All members spoke with a poise and eloquence that bodes well for the future of lawyering in Uganda. Atwine dodged some decidedly stinging blows from the Judge’s line of questioning to the joy of the audience.

Not to be outboxed, the UoL team hit back with a surprise strategy leading from sluggers John Bosco and Patrick, the team lumbered in and sought to wear Makerere down with a slow, methodical fusillade. Suitably fatigued, the Judges were then treated to counterpunch style that Pascal weighed in with before providing an understated, unexpected but ultimately devastating delivered by Christine Naigaga, Welfare Officer of Luzira Women’s Prison.

For their spirited defence, the UoL team were awarded the win. However, this being a team event, the award of Best in the Match went – unsurprisingly, to Aaron Joel of Makerere and the Second Accolade going to Pascal. The event was well attended by an eclectic guest list including a debonair Boxing British Barrister (Kevin Saunders of St. Ives Chambers, Birmingham), Dr. Patricia Odong, Manager – Legal Education of Makerere University School of Law, Sandra Oryema of PILAC and a good turn up of inmates and prison officers, who are always eager to learn and witness good fare. Also in attendance were staff members from African Prisons Project led by Country Director Peter Tibigambwa, Programme Coordinator Mercedes Mock and Head of Finance Victoria Lanyero. As the pictures will show, there was lots of laughter, new friends were made and not a tear was shed.

Special thanks go out to Uganda Prisons Services Officer in Charge ACP Selestine Twesigye and SSP Stella Nabunya, Uganda Prison Services Legal Officers SSP Aliyo Natakunda and Ibrahim Rukundo, Uganda Prisons Service Head of Education (Luzira Prison Complex, Jinja & Kigo Prisons) Gilbert Niwamanya. Without them this event would not have been possible.

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