Kampala, May 10, 2017
The Constitutional Court in Kampala today heard a petition filed by BAT Uganda against the Government of Uganda challenging the constitutionality of the Tobacco Control Act 2015. Court also heard another plea by BAT Uganda seeking a temporary injunction on the implementation of tobacco control activities, pending disposal of the petition.
The main Responded for the Government of Uganda is the Attorney General, represented by James Nzere and Gerald Batanda. CEHURD, a Tobacco Control Advocacy CSO pleaded an application to join the Attorney General in the petition, a request that was granted.
At the beginning of the hearing, BAT submitted that there are 22 clauses in the TC Act 2015 that are unconstitutional. However by the end of the court hearing, BAT’s lawyer, James Mukisa submitted that the contentious clauses are only 13, and requested court to stay implementation of those clauses until the petition is disposed of.
The legal team representing the Government of Uganda categorically explained to court that the Tobacco Control Act 2015 came into force on May 18, 2016, exactly six months after the president assented to it.
The Government of Uganda team was represented by James Nzere, Gerald Batanda and David Kabanda. They submitted that the spirit behind the provisions in the act is to protect both current and future generations from the devastating health, economic and environmental effects of tobacco as guided by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), to which Uganda is a party. They pleaded before court that the first respondent wants to stay implementation of tobacco control activities so they continue making abnormal profits at the expense of the health of Ugandans, including those who do not chose to smoke ( mainly women and children), and yet they have to suffer from the effects of second hand smoke.
The panel of five Judges led by Deputy Chief Justice Kavuma said the decision regarding the injunction will be given on notice, while May 17th was set as the date for the next hearing of the petition. The other judges on the panel included; Justice Remy Kasule, Justice Obura, Justice Buteera and Justice Chebroline. In the meantime, the legal team for the Government of Uganda has been given until Friday May 12th to submit the necessary affidavits.