KAMPALA: The Attorney General has warned the police to stop ignoring court orders, which he described as the heart of all judicial systems.
In a letter to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola, the Attorney General, Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka, said the police chief should direct his officers to comply with all court directives so as not to destroy the authority of the judicial orders.
“The purpose of this letter therefore, is to advise you to direct your officers to comply with the said directives of the court and perform their duties and obligations as is required under the law as failure to do so may lead to contempt of court proceedings filed against the Inspector General of Police personally,” Mr Kiwanuka wrote in a letter dated November 4.
Verifications of court orders started in July 2009 after President Museveni personally arrested police officers at Nateete Police Station, accusing them of conniving with landlords to evict tenants at night in disregard of court orders.
Since then, the court orders have been submitted to the police legal services directorate, which would evaluate it and determine whether to forward it to the Land Unit in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for officers to witness or not.
Mr Kiwanuka said the Uganda Court Bailiffs’ Association wrote to him that police have refused to direct their officers to witness execution of court orders, which has affected the delivery of justice.
He said Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo lifted the ban that had earlier been imposed on execution of proceedings.
“All execution orders issued by the courts must, therefore, be complied with in accordance with the directives of the court. Please note, a court order is a court order. It must be obeyed as ordered unless set aside or varied. It isn’t a mere technicality that can be ignored,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from the police spokesman Fred Enanga about the letter were futile. He didn’t respond to our messages.
The President of Bailiffs in East Africa, Bonny Rwamukaaga, who was happy with the decision by the Attorney General, said yesterday they have been unable to execute the court order due to reluctance by the police to witness the process.
“We go through nine different offices in the police to execute a court order. Why? A court order isn’t supposed to be discussed. If the police were serious, they should establish a central office to verify every order from the court,” Mr Rwamukaaga said.
Police officers in the Land Protections Unit have also been under pressure from the Ministry of Land, and also State House, not to authorize eviction of tenants in different parts of the country.