Ugandan activists sceptical that death penalty clause will be dropped

Ugandan LGBTI activists are sceptical that the death penalty clause is still intact in the re-tabled “kill the gays bill” despite avowals by MP David Bahati to reporters last week that the clause had been dropped.

Activists have obtained copies of the newly republished bill and the death penalty appears to be still intact. The activists are warning that Bahati cannot be trusted to drop the death penalty clause on the floor of Parliament as he has told a number of media outlets he will.

Meanwhile, the outgoing Clerk of Uganda Parliament, Aeneas Tandekwire has said he is appalled that the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 seeking a death penalty for Ugandan gays was re-tabled without following the right Parliamentary procedure.

While handing over office to Uganda’s first female Clerk of Parliament, Jane Kibirige last week, Tandekwire said that the Parliamentary Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga shot down requests from legislators who wanted David Bahati to table a certificate of [the bill’s] Financial Implications.

A Ugandan newspaper, the Observer, is reporting that the speaker told legislators that Bahati presented the Certificate when the “kill the gays bill” was first introduced in Parliament in 2009.

The Observer is reporting that Tandekwire who is known to be independent and to speak his mind, pointed out that he was amazed by the way Kadaga “circumvented” section 10 of the Budget Act, which requests that a certificate of financial implication of the bill be tabled, when the Ndorwa West MP, Bahati, re-tabled the anti-homosexuality bill recently.

Tandekwire says he watched the February 7 proceedings on television from home and was appalled when Kadaga rejected a request by MPs that Bahati first tables a certificate of the financial implication of the bill.

During the debate, Kadaga told MPs who had demanded the financial certificate that it had been tabled last year when Bahati first introduced the bill.

Under Uganda’s Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, a Private Member of Parliament can table a bill. However Cabinet ordinarily discusses the bill and associates itself (cabinet) with such a bill. The legislator can then approach the Ministry of Finance to get a Certificate of Financial Implications, indicating how much it will cost government to set up institutions and frameworks for managing the bill if passed into law.

“That’s where Bahati will have a technical challenge. The Ministry of Finance can refuse to give him this Certificate. That will mean he cannot reintroduce the bill,” James Mukaga, a Clerk Assistant to the Parliament of Uganda told Behind the Mask in August last year when Cabinet made its objection to the bill public.

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