By our reporter
Ugandan law graduates from the Institute of Legal Practice & Development in Rwanda have petitioned the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga over their failure to practice in Uganda.
The students petitioned Kadaga saying they have been rendered jobless after the law council declined to accredit them upon their return to Ugandaafter studying their bar course from Rwanda. According to the law council, Rwanda is not under the common law jurisdiction.
Rwanda’s legal practice is premised on the civil law widely used in the Francophone countries, while Uganda practices common law, under the commonwealth system. An example in common law is one is innocent until proven guilty, while in civil law, one is guilty unless proven innocent.
Most of the students studied their law degree in Ugandan schools like Cavendish University and Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) but went to Rwanda for the bar course to the institute of Legal and Development practice, and equivalent of the Law Development Centre in Kampala.
The Bar Course is a postgraduate course which allows law graduates to be named and practice as lawyers. Wahab Kasim who says he has had to go back to the Law Development Centre and do a bar course even after doing one from Rwanda because he was frustrated.
He says that although the Ugandan law council says Rwanda is not under common law, it actually is and in the spirit of East African Integration, those who studied from Rwanda should be allowed to practice as Rwanda fully adopted common law practice.
He says Kenya has accepted people who studied in Rwanda and Rwanda too has accepted Ugandans who studied in Rwanda, but Uganda has left them on the streets.
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Nalubwama Afwua, who studied at IUIU says it is not that they failed LDC in Uganda and opted to go to Rwanda, but some of them found themselves in Rwanda after their course. She says many of them qualify and are stranded.
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The Speaker of Parliament Kadaga says this is an area that needs to be addressed. She says for Ugandans to start practicing in Kenya, it took time for Government to intervene and hopefully this too can be addressed.
She says she will bring the matter before MPs so that the legal and Parliamentary committee can scrutinize the matter.
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Simon Peter Kinobe, a member of the Uganda Law Council and President Law society says the problem with Rwanda is that they practices civil law, and now because of the East African intergration, it is trying to practice common law, which is now a mix.
According to Kinobe, it is not a matter of superiority, but the fact that Rwanda practices a different law. “We have heard people from South Africa come to practice in Uganda, but we cannot allow them to practice because although South Africa is well advanced in law, it’s a different jurisdiction of common and Roman-Dutch common law,” he said.
Kinobe now says what some countries have been doing is to look at the papers of students who study out of the jurisdiction, and ask them to study what they missed. There are about 200 Ugandan students who completed bar course from Rwanda.