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{UAH} Unveiling the Stinking Rot at the Uganda Law Council and LDC that is Denying Jobs to Thousands of Lawyers

NAIROB, Kenya: Thousands of Ugandan students qualifying as lawyers from the scores of universities across the country continue to remain jobless due to the 'rot' and 'corruption' at the Uganda Law Council and the Law Development Center (LDC), the Investigator can report.

According to statistics, over 5,000 students from the over 30 universities spread across the country graduate with Bachelors of Law (LL.B) every year, yet the LDC that is mandated to sharpen their legal skills before getting admitted as advocates can only accommodate 450 students a year.

The 450 that manage to go through are vetted by the Uganda Law Council, the body mandated to regulate Legal education in the country. The few that manage to pass the pre-entry examinations describe the screening as similar to going through 'Hell,' characterized by rampant rot, corruption, nepotism and bribery.

The problem?

The Investigator in-house analyst went down to work out the issues and unearthed that the Uganda Law Council, headed by Prof, Frederick Ssempeebwa, is the problem.  Though Uganda is a member of the East African Community, the Uganda Advocates Act as amended in 2000 still doesn't allow non Ugandan lawyers to practice in the country. This is contrary to the East African Treaty.

The same has greatly hurt the other East African states that are now also revenging by denying Ugandan lawyers access to practice in their countries.  To make matters worse, the Ugandan lawyers (majority) who fail to get enrolled at the LDC due to the limited space end up enrolling for advocates training course in either Kenya or Rwanda yet they cannot practice in Uganda on completion.

The Investigator established that over 4,000 students end up either in Kenya or Rwanda. A course at the Kenya School of Law costs KSH 190,000 (Ugx 685,000) compared to the LDCs Ugx3m. Many Ugandan students resort to Kenya, despite being expensive, due to the fact that the Kenya School of Law has facilities that accommodate up-to 2500 students annually. Rwanda in 2013, amended its Advocates Act to accommodate all lawyers from East Africa.

The worse scenario, according to victims of the Uganda Advocates Act, is the denial to be granted permission to practice in Uganda even after passing in the Kenya School of Law and practicing for years. "After failing to get through to LDC due to the low capacity intake, I went to Kenya School of Law where was admitted. After I got a practicing certificate and practiced for three years. But even when I returned back to Uganda, I was only allowed to practice as an intern for a year before being considered. It is now three years and I am yet to get a practicing certificate from Uganda," the affected lawyer said. He revealed to the Investigator that due to this archaic Act, many Ugandan lawyers will continue to wallow in poverty due to endless joblessness.

Kenya revenges

Since no Kenyan lawyer can practice in Uganda, though Ugandan lawyers are allowed to practice in Kenya, the Kenya Council of Legal Education (similar to Uganda Law Council) last year begun to do as its counterpart does. The council refused to clear over 100 law students who had applied to join the Kenya School of Law.

The students from Christian University Mukono and the Uganda Pentecostal Universities had failed to get admitted at the Law Development Center. Remember each year the LDC receives applications from 1500 desperate students but only admits 450, yet all the applicants must pay pre- entry examinations of Ugx 100,000. After failing to get admitted, something seen as a revenge by Kenya, the students dragged the Council of Education and the Kenya School of Law to court.

The petition brought before the High Court of Kenya in Nairobi vide Nos. 450, 448 and 461 of 2016 had Monica Wamboi Ng' anga and Others and Petitioners and Council of Legal Education of Kenya, The Kenya School of Law and the Attorney General Kenya as 1st , 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively. Similarly, the Law Council of Uganda and the Uganda Pentecostal University were listed as interested parties.

Judge rules in favor of Ugandan students

In a land mark judgment made on April 4th 2017 by Nairobi High Court, Justice G.V Odunga ruled that the respondents' decision to reject the petitioners' application to the Kenya School of Law for the academic program 2017/2018 was unlawful.

The judge also issued an order of certiorari removing from the court for the purposes of being quashed and quashed the respondents' decision declining to clear the petitioners for admission to the Kenya School of Law for advocates training program.

Justice Odunga also issued an order compelling the Council for Legal Education of Kenya to clear the Ugandan students for admission into the Kenya School of Law for admission into the Advocates Training Programme (ATP) under the same conditions that their predecessors who also qualified from the same Universities. The Uganda students were represented by Johnson Asimwe. Speaking to the Investigator after the judgment in Nairobi, Asimwe welcomed the judgment but hastened to add that Uganda should emulate what the other EAC member states are doing.

Situation getting worse

The Investigator has established that instead of trying to help address the problem of endless joblessness of the Ugandan lawyers, the Uganda Law Council in 2011 wrote to its counterparts in Kenya and Tanzania instructing them not to admit any Ugandan law student for advocates training. Tanzania immediately responded and banned all Ugandans from practicing on her soil.

Kenya, was reluctant until last year when a new administration at the Kenya Law School begun to implement the order by the Uganda Law Council. The first retaliation was the over 100 Uganda students who were denied access for the Advocates Training Programming prompting them to seek justice in Kenyan courts, where they won.


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