Who is Afraid of Ghosts?

If you are interested in law and society, which you should, if you are part of the human society!

If you are interested in law and politics, rule of law v. rule by law, you might like this piece on Ghosts & the Law, by my scholarly mentor and cheerleader. A very notable Professor of Law, scholarly activist, internationalist and indefatigable human rights activist, Professor J. Oloka-Onyango.

In his Inaugural Lecture, interestingly, coming toward the end of his academic teaching career on November 12, 2015, as Professor of Law at Makerere University, Oloka-Onyango explores once again, the ‘Ghost’ of ex parte Matovu, a very domineering and controversial case in Uganda’s Constitutional legal History, a living ghost, still haunting the present.

It is noted that Uganda v. Commissioner of Prisons, ex parte Michael Matovu (1966) fortified the notion of Political Question Doctrine (PQD) in Uganda’s Constitutional Law, by privileging unfettered Executive power over constitutional governance.

Yet again, Oloka-Onyango, who is not afraid of ghosts revisits the overdue constitutional and judicial obligation to expunge the Bad ghost of ex parte Matovu and PQD, by utilizing its ‘twin Good ghost’, Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

While PIL is relatively new in Uganda’s constitutional law, it has the potential of advocating for, and protecting the fundamental human rights and freedoms explicitly guaranteed to all persons, since the enactment of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.  This time, the judiciary can rescue its reputation, by not shying away from taking on its mandate in litigations involving Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


Below is an excerpt of the paper…

"So what can be said about all these ghosts that have come to us via Literature, drama and the more technologically-modern mediums, TV, radio and lm? The rst point is that they all represent some human quality: resilience, anger, torment or simple good manners. In other words, these are traits which are largely human even if they may also be attributed to the gods and spirits, and in so doing ampli ed or exaggerated. Secondly, ghosts are universal in scope, although local in application. A Nigerian incubus will not necessarily have the same traits as a troll born in Sweden. Lastly, one ignores the message that a ghost brings to one’s peril. Irrespective of the content of the message, it needs to be properly digested and applied wisely. These are all lessons that are relevant to the theory and the practice of the Law. But before turning to the Law, let us look at the arena of Philosophy."

And, if you want to read the entire paper, here is the link.

JOO INAUGURAL LECTURE Final Version, Oct 30, 2015

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