KAMPALA-UGANDA/NEWSDAY: The growing of, and dealing in, Catha edulis (khat), aka mairungi or miraa, is not banned or otherwise controlled under the provisions of sections 26, 29, 47, 49 and 60 (1) (b) and (c) of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, which is allegedly now the applicable law in regard to regulation and use of restricted substances. If it were, the petitioners would have challenged those provisions too.
Khat, the petitioners’ sole concern at the moment, is not one of the substances previously restricted under the National Drug Policy and Authority Act [that allegedly] remain restricted.
Therefore, the petitioners’ historical sovereignty, since time immemorial, to grow and deal in Khat was restored, and it remains unaffected by these extrajudicial statements. It shall be vigorously defended against any further encroachment by the State or other actors.
We reserve comment on the impacts of the judgment on other hitherto restricted drugs and substances under the impugned law of 2016. However, any person or stakeholder interested in legal advice, of a general or specific nature, concerning their rights at the moment should consult a qualified legal expert in the usual manner.
Whereas Parliament still reserves the power to legislate on the same subject should it find it necessary, it is however imperative to note that this judgment addressed only the quorum flaw, and issued appropriate guidance to Parliament to be observed in ascertaining quorum in future events.
Besides quorum, however, there are many other procedural and substantive flaws in the 9th Parliament’s approach to the law-making function which Court did not address. Hence the 11th Parliament should promptly avail itself of the opportunity to learn from the petitioners and their counsel about these unresolved flaws and appreciate the petitioners’ concerns without bias, or otherwise risk prolonged litigation over these matters.
With great respect, the Police and Judiciary statements are not entirely accurate, adequate or fit-for-purpose. They do not address the broad range of fact-specific needs and scenarios that the ordinary citizens of Uganda and other stakeholders are concerned about in the aftermath of this judgment.
Accordingly, we will have a lot more to say at a forthcoming presser, to be confirmed to the media very soon. Given the public interest generated by this matter, we are compelled to hold a town-hall style public gathering and attend to as many FAQs as possible from journalists and the public.
Isaac Ssemakadde is a High court advocates and Lead Counsel for the Petitioners (Winners)
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