MUSEVENI PAYS SHS60M, COMMENDS CATHOLIC LAWYERS FOR INITIATING SOCIAL UPLIFT PROGRAMS
Catholic Lawyers under their global umbrella organization-Catholic Lawyers Society International (CLSI) have kicked off efforts to start a university in the troubled Karamoja sub-region.
This project is part of the 3-year strategic plan launched by the organization to cause changes in various sectors including education, environment, health and social status.
The organization’s president counsel Severino Twinobusingye says the decision to set up this university in Karamoja is premised on the fact that the sub-region has been neglected for the past 146 years right from the days of colonialists.
“Most street children in various cities are said to be coming from Karamoja. Therefore, we need to change strategy. We have planned to set up a vibrant university in Karamoja (Kotido) to conduct research, change of attitude and mindset. Karamoja has been neglected for many years and we therefore think that the university will provide new opportunities for them” he said.
This was during the inaugural Red Mass at St. Augustine’s Institute-Nsambya. The Mass celebrated since the 13th century, brings together Catholic Lawyers to seek devine wisdom and knowledge to be able to deliver justice in the world.
During this historic mass, the Catholic Lawyers Society International launched a number of programs that the organization is going to undertake in the next three years as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility agenda.
The activities include protecting life and health of people by fighting injustices caused by substandard medicines for both livestock and humans on the market, addressing the issue of street children, advocating for desent housing for slum dwellers, protection of the environment through afforestation, intervening in the education sector by among others setting up the Karamoja Peace and Technology University, provision of legal aid/probono services to the less previledged, provision of continuing legal education to members and engaging in strategic litigation to promote justice and peace around the world.
“On probono services we shall mainly target widows, orphans, PWDs. These are the most vulnerable especially when it comes to land issues. Because of growing population, there’s pressure on land and this has given rise in falsification of land ownership. We’re also seeing a rise in cases of grabbing of church land” he said, adding that the organization was soon embarking on a pilot project to survey and secure all Catholic church land beginning with Kotido, Kabale districts. As for street kids, Twinobusingye said the organization intends to also set up functional centers to provide care to these kids and also work on processes to reunite the kids with their families.
He said that already, preparations to acquire acreditation from the National Council for Higher Education are in full gear.
“Once we get this, our technical people are going to advise us on what’s is required and the cost. Once this is done, fundraising will start” he said.
He said President Museveni is the chancellor of this university, Severino Twinobusingye the chairman university council, state minister for Northern Uganda Grace Freedom Kwiyukwiny, vice chairperson university council while Deus Nkurunziza is the Vice chancellor.
Others are Locap Paul, deputy vice chancellor, Amama Mbabazi chief fundraiser, while Rt. Rev. Giuseppe Fillip is the patron and Kotido Vicar General Msgr. Dr. Philip Loker is the chaplain.
President Museveni who contributed Shs60m towards the launch of the activities, through his vice president Maj. Jessica Alupo who represented him, commended Catholic Lawyers for demonstrating a concern for social issues beyond their legal practice. He said the NRA’s liberation struggle was against bankrupt leadership, which he said promoted sectarian ideas of tribe, religion among others.
“Therefore, the main goal is achieving socioeconomic transformation by helping the remaining 39% of homesteads to join the modernity of the four sectors of commercial agriculture, with good calculation, industries, services and ICT. To have subsistence farmers in your areas as lawyers is unacceptable” he said.
The president said that since 1986, the NRM has been telling Ugandans that there are two major players in the modern economy which include the producers (farmers, industrialists, service providers). He said these are the wealth creators who invest natural, human and financial resources into production of goods and services that people need.
The second group, the president said are the consumers who provide the market for the goods and services of the producers. Museveni said that if one produces a good or service and no body or a few people buy, such an enterprise will collapse, noting that a market is important as it guarantees profits if it’s bigger.
Museveni however, said that for a market and profits to occur, there must be enablers such as peace and security, good roads, power, low costs of labour, favorable policies, ICT backbone and railways.
He added that regional and international integration of the African is also key in the process of transformation as an aggressive production requires market outlets to sustain itself.
“Therefore, I applaud the Catholic Lawyers for initiating social uplift programs aimed at improving the wellbeing of the people. The NRM government has established a solid foundation for Uganda’s development and socioeconomic transformation” he said noting that development alone isn’t enough as this is a collective good for everyone but people need to strive to create wealth and jobs as these belong to families, individuals, groups or companies. He conglatulated Catholic Lawyers Society International upon the launch of their activities and wished them success in the tasks ahead.
Twinobusingye commended president Museveni for the support and said they are going to work with government and all stakeholders to ensure that the set programs are achieved.
He said the organization’s members are committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and competence in the study, teaching and practice of law, in a world plagued by injustice, joblessness, poverty, violence and war.
He said the major goal of this organization is to achieve strategic social transformation that enables justice for all.
“As learned friends who were reared and well educated, we cannot sit in our chambers and leave society deteriorate before our own eyes” he said emphasizing the need to interrogate underlying reasons for the existence of over 50000 pending cases in Ugandan courts.
“There’s need therefore, to analyze these court cases, identify the core issues and root causes which are systematically eating up the fabric of our society. Our times are faced with a moral crisis” he noted, adding that as lawyers, they are privy to special knowledge and information which puts them in a unique position to know the real issues and challenges of society.
He challenged lawyers to not only focus on finding legal solutions but also take a step further and identify both root causes and solutions to concrete issues and challenges faced by people today.
The main celebrant Rt. Rev. Giuseppe Fillip urged Catholic Lawyers to understand and respect the dignity of all persons. He emphasized justice blended with forgiveness and reconciliation as this would make prisons irrelevant.
“Justice goes hand in hand with forgiveness. Once people are willing to repent and ask for forgiveness, then, they can be restored to the integrity of the community and there; will be no need for prison. Justice, forgiveness and reconciliation can’t be separated” he counseled.
He said people need to understand the meaning of the word God.
“God means peace. Disciples of God are peace makers. If I want to bring peace in the world, I need to have peace with myself. I should know that the people who are powerful and powerless are all my brothers and sisters. Before God, there is no difference between the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless. The dignity of the person Before God is the same” the man of God who is also the patron of the organization said.
The launch was also attended by Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo, judges from different courts, lawyers, NCHE boss Dr. Okwakol and former premier John Patrick Amama Mbabazi.
Dollo welcomed the organization and urged everyone to support and promote it. On delivery of justice, he said that the right to be heard is a fundamental human right in the course of trial.
“It makes what a fair trial is” he noted adding that the primary duty of a lawyer is not to ‘win’ the case, but to be able to guide the judicial officer to make a correct judgement.
He challenged Catholic Lawyers to be very active in public litigations, citing rampant corruption as a human rights issue.
“If Malaria drugs are imported from Turkey and are not delivered, how many people will die of Malaria? I want to see my Catholic Lawyers very active in public litigation matters which concern the public” he said.
The CJ however, asked judicial officers not to over rely on court law justice system in handling some cases such as land matters but instead explore other means like mediation and abitration before elders. Dollo said this system may yield better results than the known court law justice system.
The ex-premier Mbabazi commended the moto of the organization “Justice for All” saying it’s a reminder to lawyers to promote justice in all aspects.He cautioned that as the lawyers embark on their set plans, they need to guard against corruption.
“I urge all lawyers to be promoters of a clean justice system. Don’t frustrate justice in the quest to become richer. As good agents of social change, lawyers should be on the forefront in the orientation of the society in the fight against corrupt legal system. We need credible prosecutors, judicators and advocates if the law is to benefit all people around the world” he said and pledged to do the fundraising for the Karamoja Peace and Technology university.