Parliament lawyers should be equiped to meet global challenges – Speaker

ColloquiumThe Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has called for training and improvement of research for legal officers attached to legislatures to enhance the work of parliaments around Africa.

Kadaga, who was opening the 4th Africa Colloquium of Legal Counsel to Parliaments, on Monday 30th October 2017, called on legal officers to prepare to address challenges of emerging global trends.

“The problems of the 1960’s are not the problems of today. The quick process of globalisation and the increased industrial and technological innovations, issues of climatic change, energy and competition for resources, are some of the issues, which legal counsels should prepare for in order to move forward,” she said.

The Colloquium is being held at Speke Resort, Munyonyo, under the theme: “Emerging Global Trends: A challenge for legal counsel to Parliaments.”

“There is great need for reading, training and research and as the conference continues, legal counsels should ask themselves whether they have resources to handle such training,” she said.

Kadaga added that legislators needed to legislate and see how Sustainable Development Goals fit in various systems in the countries.

She said that legal counsels must be on top of the game, as they are required to operate under a lot pressure to produce amendments to bills and work of committees. She also said that it remained tricky for legal counsels to harmonise the conflict of interests between government and the legislature.

“Parliament lies between the people and the state, which makes its position tricky for our legal counsels to navigate the space between the two (Parliament and the state),” she said adding that “It also creates a big burden for the legal counsels to make sure that the interests of public are harmonized with those of the state.”

The Speaker said that it was the work of legal counsels to make sure that policies of government fit in with issues of human rights as well as comply with international instruments to which the countries are party to.

The Director, Department of Legal and Legislative Services, Mr. Pius Biribonwoha, said that in many countries, parliaments have relied on the Executive to render legal services which has proved to be a less than satisfactory way of providing efficient and effective legal service to legislatures.

“This in some instances has compromised the doctrine of separation of powers. Parliaments should develop strong and independent legislative services in order to provide effective and expeditious legal services to Parliament,” said Mr. Biribonwoha.

He said that the Colloquium is intended to create inter-linkages between legal counsels serving in Parliaments in Africa together with their facilitators.

He added that the Colloquium should foster the functions and roles of legal counsels serving in Parliaments in Africa for better service delivery.   

The Colloquium has brought together legal counsels from Sudan, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and others.