In Summary

The Judiciary says the Constitutional Court judges are currently handling election appeals.

The Judiciary has apologised to health activists and advocates for the delay to pronounce itself on a case in which government was sued over high preventable maternal deaths, citing administrative issues, among others.

The apology, which was issued yesterday by the Registrar of Court of Appeal, Mr Erias Kisawuzi, who is also the Judiciary spokesperson, followed a peaceful demonstration by health activists.

The activists marched from Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb to the Constitutional Court under police guidance, to express their concern over the seven-month delay.

In his apology, Mr Kisawuzi attributed the delay to having fewer judges (five) on the bench who are currently handling election appeals at the expense of other 30,000 cases pending before the Constitutional Court.

“I acknowledge the delay in delivery of the ruling, but this is due to administrative issues. Court embarked on election related cases and the law requires us to handle them first,” Mr Kisawuzi said.

He added: “On a good note, I am going to deliver your petition to the justices. I can say that you will get your ruling soon.”

The activists were also protesting the ‘disastrous’ draft budget for health sector, saying it does not even afford a 50 per cent salary increment for health workers. They want the government to consider increasing funding to the health budget for the financial year 2012/13 and also recruit more staff.

In their petition, which they delivered to Mr Kisawuzi, the activists said the delay to pronounce itself on the case now means that preventable maternal deaths continue unchecked.

The Coalition to end Maternal Mortality highlight the urgent need for government action to end the ongoing crisis of maternal deaths.

Health statistics show that 16 women die while giving birth daily in Uganda.

In their suit, the activists argue that by not providing essential medical commodities and health services to pregnant women, the government is violating the constitutional rights of Ugandans.

Key issues

Rights abuse: The petitioners want court to declare that non-provision of essential maternal commodities and services in government health facilities leading to the death of expectant mothers is an infringement on their rights to life and health.

Compensation: They also want court to compel the government to compensate families of mothers who have died due to negligence of health workers and the non-provision of maternal healthcare packages..