THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
IN THE HIGH COURT OF UGANDA AT KAMPALA
CRIMINAL SESSION NO.237 OF 2019
ARISING FROM CITY HALL CRIMINAL CASE NO.23 OF 2018
1. NAKALEMA HARRIET
2. MWAGALE ANNET ALIAS NAMIRIMO------------------ACCUSSED
BEFORE HON: JUSTICE ISAAC MUWATA
The accused person Mwagale Annet alias Namirimo is charged with murder contrary to section 188 &189 of the Penal Code Act. When the matter came up for plea taking, counsel for the accused made an oral application on behalf of the accused for an order that an assessment of the accused persons mental health be done for purposes of determining her fitness to stand trial.
It was counsel for the accused person’s contention that the accused person is suffering from a prolonged mental illness that may make her incapable of standing trial or understanding the nature of the proceedings against her
The state had no objection to this application and invited court to exercise its discretion but also be guided by the provisions of section 45(1) of the trial on indictments Act.
Section 45(1) of the Trial on indictment Act provides,
"When in the course of a trial the High Court has reason to believe that the accused is of unsound mind and consequently incapable of making his or her defense, it shall inquire into the fact of such unsoundness."
After giving the matter my most careful consideration, I grant the prayer made by counsel for the accused person aware that it is necessary to ensure that the accused person is accorded a fair trial. In the criminal justice process, a defendant must be fit to stand trial so that the criminal procedure is dignified, the results are reliable and the punishment if any is morally justified and more so also considering that the right to a fair trial is expressly guaranteed under article 28(1) of the Constitution.
It is also important to note that fitness to stand trial is a legal, not a clinical decision; the mental health professional offers an opinion and the court decides.
In view of this, it is essential that the court also gives guidance to the psychiatric specialists on what to look for when deciding on issues of fitness to stand trial. I invite the specialists to consider the following factors that will enable court determine the accused person’s fitness to stand trial.
1. Her ability and/or capacity to comprehend the charges against her.
2. Her ability and/or capacity to realize the seriousness of the penalties if proven guilty
3. Her ability and/or capacity to follow the proceedings of the court;
4. Her ability and/or capacity to help her lawyer to defend her case;
5. Her ability and/or capacity to maintain appropriate behavior in the court; and
6. Her ability and/or capacity to competently give her own evidence should the need arise and should she elect to do so.
This order is directed toward the Medical Superintendent of Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital.
The medical assessment report should be filed and submitted to this court within one month from the receipt of this order. This order must be served not later than 21/4/2022.
The proceedings in this matter are also hereby stayed pending that report.
I so order.