The Law Society’s Human Rights Committee has urged the Ugandan government to select a new chief justice following the unconstitutional reappointment of the Honourable Justice Benjamin Joseph Odoki, who last year reached the mandated retiring age of 70.
Mr Odoki reached the age of 70 on 23 March last year and then served a three-month extension until 23 June. He has served in the judiciary for 35 years, and as chief justice for the last 12 years.
According to the Ugandan constitution, a new chief justice must be appointed by the president acting on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission and with the approval of parliament. Reports suggests that in the case of Mr Odoki’s reappointment, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) were not consulted. The JSC are on record as stating his reappointment was unlawful.
The Human Rights Committee has written to president Yoweri Museveni calling on the rule of law to be adhered to and urged a new chief justice to be appointed according to the selection processes mandated by the national constitution.
Professor Sara Chandler, chair of the Human Rights Committee, said:
’The Law Society urges president Yoweri Museveni to comply with the Ugandan constitution and, in the appointment of a new chief justice, select one of the persons whose names have been submitted by the Judicial Service Commission.
‘Adhering to these processes will guarantee compliance with Uganda’s constitution, ensure the maintenance of the independence of the judiciary in Uganda, and show respect for the nation’s judges, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.