Clear Line of Independence of the Judiciary

The first challenge is that there is a general misconception among Ugandans that when someone is released on bail. Many Ugandans are not aware that one has a right to apply for bail. Therefore when a person is arrested and they apply for bail. The public will perceive their release upon the grant of bail as a bribe. Thus our government should endeavour that the public is educated on the law relating to bail, how one can apply for it and also its implication upon its grant.

Another challenge is that the grant of bail is influenced by the political climate. Whenever a person is indicted for a political crime their right to bail is often hindered by the political climate as the government in power will threaten judicial officers into denying bail to opposition leaders in order to punish them. The public however needs to understand that rights are inherent and not granted by the state; they cannot just be taken away by the government for any reason in fact the state is charged under the constitution with the obligation to protect the rights as granted by the constitution. That is why the Magistrates and Judges before whom these political accused persons appear must always exercise their discretion judiciously and grant these people bail on conditions that ensure that they return to court contrary to any executive guidelines that they may receive. There should be a clear line of independence of the judiciary so that executive orders do interfere with the orders that are granted by the judiciary.

The third challenge is that in many instances accused persons that are granted bail fail to meet the conditions set by court to ensure that they attend the trial. This defeats the efforts of the prosecutors and judicial officers in protecting the freedom of the accused person. That is why the law requires that as soon as the accused person jumps bail or fails to turn up for trial as required by Court, a warrant for his or her arrest is issued and once arrested he/she is detained never to be released on bail again. It is thus important for accused persons to know that release on bail is not an acquittal and that they have to return for trial, lead evidence in defence of their cases, receive their judgement and serve their sentence if given one. Therefore a department should be put in place so that all those that are released on bail appear weekly in order to assess whether they are still complying with the conditions of their bail.

The fourth challenge is the condition of surety ship need to be re evaluated always requiring someone to have a surety commercialises the system and this leads to an increase in the cost of bail. There is therefore no need to make a routine of having a surety therefore the some offences should require sureties while small offences should not require the burden of a surety.

The lack of judicial officers should also be looked into. Many accused persons languish in jail because there is a small number of judges and magistrates to handle their cases. Hence in order to curb this government should appoint more judges and magistrates to cure case backlog.

The other challenge will be away to refund the bail money on acquittal of the accused person, in fact many accused persons are aware of the fact that the bail money can be refunded after the completion of the case. Those that are aware have complained that the process of refunding their bail money is tedious and could take up to two years before the money can be refunded by the Uganda Revenue Authority where this money is paid. Therefore a possible solution is that a system should be put in place to enable people get their money back after the case is over.

There is need to also clearly stipulate in the laws what amounts to advanced age as a special condition for grant of bail. This will enable curb the challenge of contradictory decisions when it comes to this condition.

Finally law on bail requires an accused person must fulfil several conditions before being granted bail, including, among others, taking a personal cognizance from him or her, admitting at least two substantial sureties who must know or have a close relationship with the accused person and are duly recommended by the local authorities where they live and are bonded in a sum of money determined by Court. This is to ensure that the accused person shall return to court whenever he or she is called upon to do so. On many occasions the cash bond cannot be raised by the accused especially when they are indigent. Therefore, whereas there is a need by courts to balance the interest of justice, many times these monetary conditions are restrictive on the right to bail for the poor persons.