By Agnes Nantambi
THE principal judge justice Yorokamu Bamwine has decried the delay in the review of the law on succession saying it is rendering women more vulnerable.
In a speech delivered by the assistant registrar of family matters Justine Atukwasa, during the National dialogue on effective delivery of land justice amidst existing succession laws and extra judicial practices in Uganda, Bamwine observed that despite having one of the most progressive and democratic constitutions, some laws like succession are still discriminatory which is unfair.
“In spite of the gender sensitivity, the pleas of women for equal and accessible protection of their right to inherit property, the process of reforming the law to comply with the minimum standards to the country’s constitution is taking longer than it should, “he noted.
The Constitutional Court in April 2007 declared some sections of the Succession Act null and void due to its discriminatory aspect calling for its review.
Bamwine complained that there is a lot of unfairness in our statuary laws and informal use of customary as well as Islamic laws in this country regarding issues of inheritance.
He added that the constitution provides that women shall be accorded full dignity with men and also prohibits cultures that are against the dignity and welfare which undermine their status, “he added.
He observed that the vulnerability of women when inheriting land has contributed to backlog of cases, since most of the aggrieved with the inequalities and inheritance many never resolve their disputes expeditiously.
“A number of such cases relate to abuse of land and property rights of orphans or widow, divorced and separated women, “he said.
He observed the need to put emphasis on the protection of the unprivileged against those who have political or economic influence.
Bamwine also asked the stake holders to join efforts in practicing change in promoting equitable justice especially for land related cases that have largely contributed to case back log in the justice system.
The executive Director Uganda Land Alliance Edmond Malilo Owor complained that the process of review seem to have got stuck somewhere with no update on it.
“In some areas when men hear about being equal to women, they get angry, so we suspect government has not prioritized the review, “he said.
“We want men to understand that they are equal to women and have rights over land just like men, “he said.
Annet Koote the principal legal officer of the Uganda law reform commission said the review process is in high gear.
She said that as part of the review a country wide study indicated that the law is discriminatory.
“Considering the succession Act, it has so many discriminatory provisions on the basis of sex, it has provisions which tend to favor men against women, “she said.
When you consider the intestate succession, it provides only for men intestate yet there are also women who own property and may die without making a will, “she added.
She said “the current law states that when somebody dies without making a will the principal residential home is supposed to belong to the widow with the children however, the occupancy terminates, when the widow re-marries or when the boy child attains the age of 18 years and the girl child attains 21 years or marry.
“We recommend for home to remain a home at any time for anybody “she said.
The study also recommended the reduction of the age at which a person should make a will from 21 to 18 years because the constitution allows people to get married at 18 years.