President defers signing of Sexual Offences, Succession Bills

The President has deferred signing off the Sexual Offences Bill and Succession Bill. 

President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to return the Bills for reconsideration by the House was communicated to MPs on Tuesday, 17 August 2021 by the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among, who chaired the session.

In a written statement, Among said the President explained that the Succession (Amendment) Bill, 2021 needed to be reconsidered because with the new clauses included, it would most likely bring disharmony between the surviving spouse and dependant relatives.

It read: Under Clause 14(c), where the intestate is survived by a spouse and a dependant relative with no lineal descendants, the spouse shall receive 80 per cent and the dependant shall receive 20 per cent of the whole property of the intestate.

“This is a complete departure from the earlier provisions of the law with no clear justification. It will interfere with the beneficiary’s interests where the surviving spouse’s share increases from 50 per cent to 80 per cent and reduces the dependent relatives share from 49 per cent to 20 per cent,” Museveni argued.

He further added: “This amendment would not only be unfair to the dependant relatives but would create misunderstandings between the surviving spouse and the dependant relative.”

According to the President, more research needed to be carried out so that a clear justification is given for reducing or increasing the shares clearly stipulated in the current law.

The current law gives for 50 per cent of the estate to the widow or widower, 49 per cent of the estate to the dependant relative and 1 per cent to the customary heir.

“I have been informed that Uganda Law Reform Commission had earlier carried out a comprehensive review of all criminal related laws. Amendments to the Penal Code Act, Magistrate Court Act and Trial on Indictment Act and Evidence Act were presented by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee but were never considered,” the letter continued. 

The Sexual Offences and Succession Bills were passed on 4 May 2021 and 30 April 2021 respectively. 

Noting that Article 91 of the Constitution requires that as soon as a Bill is passed, it has to be passed to the President for assent. The President shall within thirty days after a Bill is passed to him or her;  (a) assent to the Bill; (b) return  the  Bill  to  Parliament  with  a  request  that  the  Bill  or a particular provision of it be reconsidered by Parliament; or (c) notify the Speaker in writing that he or she refuses to assent to the Bill.

The Deputy Speaker forwarded the Bills to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for reconsideration.