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Lawyer challenges law for limiting appeals at the Court of Appeal

Kigali lawyer petitioned the Supreme Court to scrap two provisions in the 2018 law determining the jurisdiction of courts that limit the admissibility of appeals to the Court of Appeal.

Article 46 and 52 of the law does not allow a party to appeal to the Court of Appeal when they pleaded guilty in the case they lost at a lower instance.

Similarly, a party that lost cannot appeal against the same reasons they were defeated for in the lower courts.

Lawyer Frank Asiimwe argues that everyone should get justice at all levels available for rendering justice and implored the highest and constitutional court in the land to “scrap the unconstitutional provisions”.

The challenge, whose copy Kigali Law Tidings has obtained, was submitted in the middle of last year and will be heard at the Supreme Court early March this year 2021.

The provisions say “The appeal at second instance cannot be admissible for cases in which parties have admitted charges brought against them or a party who has lost the case in both courts for the same reasons”

Lawyer Asiimwe argues that “the law strips the Court of Appeal of the ability to examine past injustices”

According to Lawyer Asiimwe, a deliberate or unintended injustice over one party in two lower courts can go unchecked by the court of Appeal, sealing the fate of a litigant in total injustice.

“The fact that a court can let injustice exist just because one was unjustly defeated in two lower courts is against human rights and violates the principles of fair administration of justice” Asimwe said.

His submission challenges the law’s spirit of denying one’s appeal because of a previous defeat in lower courts for the same reasons they are appealing against.

“The law does not recognise that ‘same reasons’ do not mean just, substantial or lawful reasons and unfortunately the facts about those reasons cannot come to light unless the court is allowed to hear the case in substance”. Asiimwe argues.

According to the lawyer’s interpretation of the law, it is possible that several individuals have been denied entry into the doors of justice for the very reasons they claim they were unjustly judged.

“The article is unfair because it favours the party that won the case and against the one that lost and does not allow the court to look at the reasons for the defeat of a party” the submission says.

Onto the denial of an appeal for the party that admitted charges against them in the lower instances, Lawyer Asiimwe explained that pleading guilty does not mean that the sentence one was handed was fair.

“One might admit to the charges leveled against them but that does not mean they cannot challenge the way the facts were related to the laws and subsequently the sentence one’s crime attracted” he says, stressing that pleading guilty is one and an appropriate sentence is another.

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