ICJ alarmed at blanket prohibition on lawyers’ freedom of expression

In a letter addressed to President Museveni of Uganda, the ICJ expressed its concern at the Law Council’s intention to enforce a 1977 regulation that essentially aims to abrogate freedom of expression for lawyers.

The ICJ learned that the Law Council of Uganda issued a statement according to which lawyers will now be required to seek authorisation from the said body before making any public comment through any means on any legal or constitutional matter, as required under Regulation 22 of the Advocates Regulations.

The ICJ conveyed its worry to the Ugandan President for what is, under any light, a blanket prohibition on lawyers to express their opinions. This prohibition runs contrary to several international instruments and standards, among them the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

The essential role of lawyers includes public discussion of legal issues as much as furthering their clients’ interests” said Ian Seiderman, Legal Advisor of the ICJ. “Placing a muzzle order on lawyers harms not only their rights, but is also detrimental to the rights of the wider public to seek and receive information”.

The ICJ requested the Ugandan Government to repeal or desist from enforcing Regulation 22

Uganda-Lawyers’ freedom expression-press release-2003 (full text in English, PDF)

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