Court name
High Court of Uganda
Judgment date
14 September 2004

Mahoro Pascazia & 3 Ors v Uganda (HCT-05-CR-CN-2004/13) [2004] UGHC 86 (14 September 2004);

Cite this case
[2004] UGHC 86
Short summary:

Criminal law

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It-lb KbPUI3LIC OF UGANDA href="high-court-2004-86_files/colorschememapping.xml">

style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA

IN THE HIGH COURT OF UGANDA AT MBARARA

HCT-05-CR-CN-0013-2004


(Arising From Cr. Case No. 131-2004
CRB 346-2004 of Kisoro)

style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>1. MAHORO PASCAZIA)

2. ACILLO CHRISTINE)

3. DUDU AFISA)

4. NAMUGERWA ROSE)……………………………………………………... APPELLANTS

VS

UGANDA……………………………………………………………………….
PROSECUTOR

BEFORE: THE HON. MR. JUSTICE P. K. MUGAMBA

JUDGMENT

This is an
appeal against conviction and the subsequent sentence by the Grade I Magistrate
Kisoro on 29th June 2004.
All the four appellants had pleaded guilty to a charge of being in possession
of immature fish, contrary to sections 29 (b) and 33 (1) of the Fish Act. After
their plea to the facts were read to them which they proceeded to admit before
they were each sentenced to 8 months’ imprisonment.

In
so far as is relevant the charge read:

‘STATEMENT OF OFFENCE

POSSESSION
OF IMMATURE FISH C/SS 27(b) and 33 (1) OF FISH ACT, CAP 197.

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE

MAHORO
PASKASIA, ACIRO CHRISTINE, DUDDU AFISA AND NAMUGERWA ROSE ON THE style='mso-bidi-font-weight:bold'>23RD JUNE 2004 AT KISORO POLICE
STATION IN THE KISORO DISTRICT WERE FOUND IN POSSESSION OF IMMATURE FISH.’

Section 7
of the Fish Act states that’ immature’ in relation to a species of fish means
that it is of a length less than such as may from time to time be notified by
the Chief Fisheries Officer by statutory instrument, either generally or in
respect of any specified area.

It
does not appear from the charge what species of fish the appellants were found
in possession of. In the
statement of facts the fish was said to be of tilapia. Under the Act not only
the species of fish must be stated but also the specifications of what comprise
immature fish in the species. In that case, to my mind, there is need to show
what the length of the species found in possession of the accused was before an
offence can properly be said to have been committed. In the instant case this
was awfully missing. In a case where an accused was charged with being in
possession of articles used in witchcraft this court held that the articles
used should have been set out and that the omission to do so left the charge
vague. See Uganda vs Fenekasi Oyuko, Criminal Revision No. 407 of
1972 reported in [1973] 1 ULR 35. Article 28 (3) (b) of the Constitution
itself provides that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall
be informed immediately, in a language that the person understands of the
nature of the offence. Clause (12) of the Article provides that except for
contempt of court no person shall be convicted of a criminal offence unless the
offence is defined. Respectfully I do not find that in the instant case the
offence was well defined before the accused persons were made to plead to it
preparatory to their conviction and sentence.

This
appeal succeeds.

In the
result I quash the convictions of the appellants and set aside the sentences.

P. K. Mugamba

Judge

14th September 2004

Appellants in court

Mr. Magoba for appellants

Ms Ampeire State Attorney

Ms Tushemereirwe court clerk/interpreter

Court:

Judgment read in open court.



P. K. Mugamba

Judge