Update on SMUGVsURSB Court Case.

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Twed Towers, housing The High Court.

Sexual Minorities Uganda-SMUG together with Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum-HRAPF had a strategic meeting on 11th May 2017 to discuss the issues to be raised in support of the applicants submissions in the Miscellaneous Application No. 96/206. The meeting was largely a legal strategic meeting involving the lawyers representing the case, legal minds, petitioners and few activists.
The applicants in the care are FRANK Mugisha, DENNIS Wamala, and Ssenfuka Joanita WARRY, representing SMUG. The respondent is Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), a government body under the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, charged with the responsibility of registration of all companies in Uganda.
The fact of the case is the refusal to reserve the name SEXUAL MINORITIES UGANDA, and subsequently register the organization. The refusal to reserve and register denies SMUG the freedom of association, and formerly form a company that will act as a driver to advocate for respect, protection and promotion of rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.
The last time the case was in court on 28th April, the Judge in the case Hon. Justice Patricia Basaza Wasswa hear the case and asked the lawyers to submit written submissions. The petitioners (SMUG) is therefore expected to file their application by 15th May 2017. The lead Attorney in the case is Counsel Ladislus Kizza Rwakafuuzi, who has represented high profile cases. Counsel Patricia Kimera who heads the legal aid department at HRAPF is the co-counsel in the case.
A panel of discussants on the submissions and suggestions on improvement were Nicholas Opiyo, Fridah Mutesi and Susan Mirembe.
The issues suggested for submissions by the legal team are;
1. Whether the respondent’s refusal to reserve SMUG for purposes of registration under the Companies Act was in violations of the Articles 20, 211, 29 and 42 of the constitution.
2. Whether the rejection of SMUGs application to reserve and register is justified under the laws of Uganda.
3. Whether the delay by responding to SMUGs application in disposing off the application to reserve the name SMUG for 20 months amounts to unfair treatment under the Article 42 of the Constitution.
4. What remedies are the applicants entitles to?
The meeting further resolved to constitute other much smaller lead lawyers in practice to redraft the submissions to be filed by Monday 15th May. Prof. Sylvia offered to review the draft submissions before it filed. The case is scheduled for 30th May for hearing.
HRAPF pledges to continue providing legal services for the case. SMUG is urged to update its constituents on the progress of the case as well as update on the dates for hearing the matter.

Compiled by Douglas Mawadri, Safety and Protection officer-SMUG