By Moses Ndhaye
Leaders of faith-based institutions in Uganda have petitioned the East African Court of Justice in Arusha seeking orders that government cease to enforce a ban on places of worship.
The group led by Reigning in Life Ministries, city lawyer Abubaker Hassan Matanda and concern citizen Josephine Namukasa contend that the Standard Operating Procedures ( SOPs) on places of worship violates several rights in the constitution including freedom of worship, consciousness and association.
Through their lawyer Dr Daniel Walyemera the believers are also seeking orders that places of worship be allowed to operate on similar terms as other public places with observance of Covid19 SOPs without limiting the physical presence of the numbers of worship.
According to Counsel Dr Walyemera, the effect of the presidential directives has a chilling effect on the right to freedom of religion, belief and conscience which is a breach of articles 6(d) and 7(2) of the Treaty that enjoins partner states to adhere to principles of good governance accountability, democracy, rule of law and transparency.
Pastor Barlow Jack Antony of Reigning in Life Ministries, who swore an affidavit in support of the case says the continued enforcement of the ban or suspension of religious freedoms by restricting the number of worshippers at worship places cause unjustified restrictions on religious freedoms and if the case is not allowed Christians, Muslims and other worshippers who congregate may be victimized.
On 18th March 2020, 18th June and 30th July, the President suspended all religious gatherings in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.