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Law society asks Makerere to respect academic freedom


The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has raised concerns over what it terms as efforts by Makerere University to frustrate academic freedoms.

The university recently instituted an investigation into the conduct of the school of law’s second semester exams that parodied the speaker of Parliament.

In the said exam, the School of Law challenged its first year students on current affairs using a satirical essay that depicted Speaker Anita Among fighting back against the recent UK government sanctions.

“Stung by the recent sanctions imposed against her by the government of the United Kingdom (UK) and the Social Media criticism which followed, Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Anita Annet Among has decided to fight back against those “writing malicious reports” about her,” the essay said.

“Thus, on Monday, May 6th, 2024, she introduced what she called a “Speaker’s Bill” entitled the “Anti-Social Media and Other Imperialist Agents Bill,” which contains the following provisions, inter alia.”

However, in a statement on Thursday, Uganda Law Society president, Bernard Oundo said academic freedom is a fundamental right protected by international treaties and Ugandan law, including Article 29(1)(b) of the Constitution.

“As an organization dedicated to promoting human rights, upholding the rule of law, and providing legal assistance to the public and government, the ULS finds it necessary to address the concerns surrounding this issue,” Oundo said.

He explained that  academic freedom includes the essential principles of freedom of opinion, expression, association, and assembly but also  allows teachers and students to pursue knowledge without unwarranted interference.

“Academic freedom ensures the unrestricted pursuit of knowledge and the ability of both teachers and students to express themselves without undue influence or restrictions,” explained Oundo.

“While recognizing limitations on most human rights and freedoms, the ULS firmly believes that the exam in question, as well as similar ones, fall within the scope of academic freedom and learning. The intimidation implied by the university authorities poses a direct threat to academic freedom and has no place within our educational institutions.”

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