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After Wednesday's court hearing, we decided to visit Stella yesterday. We thought our visit would lift her spirits but how wrong we were!! She ended up lifting our spirits and by the time we left, we were assured that she is ready to take on this journey courageously no matter how unjust and unfair the system is.

 She strongly put forward a few points that we think we must share with you all.
Stella sends her heartfelt greetings & gratitude to all her friends, family, well wishers and press who showed up to the courts all day long for her revision and bail application. Seeing so many familiar faces was heartwarming and encouraging for her. She said the smile she wore in court was because of the overwhelming support that Ugandans had given her, and she remains committed to her truth, regardless of the outcome of the court hearing.

We also discussed the previous day's proceedings and she shared her reflections which included the following

a) The decision to take her proceedings in the judge's chambers despite the presence of so many citizens & local & international press to witness the event reflected the under-cover nature of administrative systems. Why hide in chambers yet there is a full courtroom waiting since 8:00am? She was proud of her lawyers who spiritedly fought to be heard in open court but the judge insisted stating that "my door is open so it is open court".

Never mind that she only permitted some sureties and lawyers in. What was open about that when we proceeded in hiding? Does this not smack of cowardice? Why hide from transparency? Why close out the world? She wanted her ruling delivered in open court at the least and she is thankful that the world witnessed for itself the shambles that our justice system has become.
b) Women in power
Stella as a radical feminist this time encountered a female prosecutor and was brought before a female judge. The system continues to tactfully place women against each other amidst the already shrinking female spaces in the country. And the women also fall prey to this; we continue to allow to be used to further degrade womanhood as if the patriarchal society we live in has not done enough of that. At what point are women going to stop tearing themselves apart? At what point are we going to realize that we are merely being used to further the cause of an already crumbling system?

c) Interference of the state with the temple of justice
The court house was infested with guns, counter terrorism militia, policemen & prison warders! Overkill if you ask me. That is not to count the many plain clothed state operatives and spies who were easy to point out. Worse still the judge did not appear impartial enough to dispense justice without some external force hovering over her.

From the onset she was impatient as she repeatedly told Stella's group of lawyers that they had only five minutes to submit. She continuously told them they had to choose between oral or written submissions and didn't want to hear the merits of the case! Why does a judge who is paid to listen not patient enough to hear the applicant out? Where was she rushing t after a full courtroom had waited for her since 9am? How is it a hearing if the judge restricts what she wants to hear/listen to?

To this regard, Stella expressed how proud she is of her legal team for the spirited fight amidst the judge's numerous interruptions intended to hasten the hearing.

1) Similar to the 2 hour morning session, the afternoon session did not start until an hour after the scheduled time of 3.30pm

2) The ruling was long, winding & convoluted with no clear end. The public will have access to this ruling once it is made available, and we can only leave it you to see how tortuous it was.
Although the lawyers submitted a wealth of cases for the judge to benchmark with, she dismissed most of them. Had she cared to read through?
In a nutshell, Stella says although she was physically in the dock, she believes the state, the court and it's systems were on trial too.

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