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Uganda high court rules bail not a constitutional right

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Uganda [official website] ruled Thursday that bail is not a constitutional right, but also found that holding a person in police custody for more than 48 hours without charge is a violation of human rights. The finding overturns sections of several Ugandan laws, including the Trial and Indictment Act, the Uganda People's Defence Forces Act, the Police Act, and the Magistrates Courts Act relating to detention without charge and the constitutional right to a speedy trial. The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative [advocacy website], who brought the lawsuit last year, had argued that bail is a human right.

Bail became a major issue last year in Uganda after the arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye [BBC profile] and associates. Ugandan security officials rearrested six defendants who had previously been granted bail following charges that they were members of the People's Redemption Army and had aided Besigye. The arrests sparked protests and a strike [JURIST report] of the Ugandan High Court following a siege at the high court. Besigye's trial resumed [JURIST report] last June after a year-long delay due to the voluntary resignation of two high court judges. From Uganda, the Monitor has more.

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