Amid a light drizzle at 1:10 pm on Wednesday, 21 June 2023, Speaker Anita Among received the remains of former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Stella Arach-Amoko at Parliament.
Among, together with the Government Chief Whip, Hon. Hamson Obua and several legislators condoled with the family at the Parliamentary foyer ahead of a special sitting to pay tribute to the fallen Judge.
Lady Justice Arach-Amoko died on 17 June 2023. She served in the judiciary in various capacities for over 25 years.
While chairing the special sitting which commenced at 2:15 pm, Among said that Uganda has lost a distinguished and exemplary judge who was approachable.
“At times you would not believe that she was a judge. She was welcoming and ready to give advice. It is so disheartening that we have lost such a person,” Among said.
She added that Justice Arach-Amoko was an icon, dedicated, professional and a selfless public servant.
“She was a pillar that cannot be easily replaced. I know somebody will be there but she cannot be Stella,” said Among.
Premier Nabbanja moved the motion to honour Arach-Amoko
The Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja who moved a motion to pay tribute to Justice Arach-Amoko described her as an extraordinary jurist who was instrumental in mainstreaming alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the Judiciary.
“Lady Justice Stella Arach-Amoko made her mark while at the Commercial Division of the High Court. It was during her tenure as head of the Commercial Court that Alternative Dispute Resolution strategies such as mediation and arbitration were introduced,” Nabbanja said adding that, ‘she was also the brain behind the licencing of so many universities to teach law. The late Lady Justice was a mentor to many at the bar and bench.
Nabbanja said that Arach-Amoko also contributed to the strengthening of judicial independence and the Judiciary’s adherence to the norms, values and aspirations of Ugandans.
The Chief Opposition Whip, Hon. John Baptist Nambeshe said that Arach-Amoko believed in fairness, accountability, transparency and constitutionalism.
“This is illustrated more especially in the Supreme Court’s decision that salvaged our honourable colleague’s election in 2015. Lady Justice Arach-Amoko was on the bench when the Supreme Court held that a Member of Parliament cannot lose their seat in the House upon expulsion from their political party in the infamous case of the ‘rebel MPs,” Nambeshe said.
Hon. David Zijjan (Indep., Butembe County) said that Arach-Amoko was an independent judicial officer who was incorruptible.
“She was a God-fearing judicial officer who knew that while she was an earthly judge, there was a judge higher than herself,” said Zijjan.
MPs also agreed to increase the budget for the Judiciary, in memory of Arach-Amoko.
Sheema County South MP, Hon. Elijah Mushemeza moved the amendment to the motion.
“What gift can we give to maintain her [Arach-Amoko’s] legacy? In my view, if we appropriated more resources for the Judiciary, she will rest in eternal peace,” said Mushemeza.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Nobert Mao applauded Arach-Amoko’s contribution to the Judiciary saying that she exemplified all the attributes of a judge.
“She had courage; many of the decisions she made required courage because they were made in the heat of pressure,” Mao said.
Hon. Nobert Mao
He said that Arach-Amoko was unequivocal in denouncing executive overage, especially by the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and district security committees who assume powers of the court.
He added that in five years, every constituency will have a magistrate.
“In the spirit of the late Justice Arach-Amoko, we are also mainstreaming alternative dispute resolution to decongest the courts,” Mao said.
The body of the late judge lay in state after the special sitting in her honour