Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signs five bills into law

President Museveni signs sugar bill into law
President Yoweri Museveni

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has officially signed into law five bills that were approved by the Parliament.

Thomas Tayebwa, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, announced on Tuesday 6, February 2024 that the President has given his assent to the following bills: the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill 2024, Judicature Amendment Bill 2023, The Explosives Act 2023, Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act 2023, and The Competition Act 2023.

The recently enacted laws encompass a range of significant changes and regulations

  • The Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Bill, 2023 permits licensed cultivation and usage of marijuana solely for medical purposes, while imposing severe penalties for various substance abuse offenses.

The law allows marijuana and khat cultivation strictly for medical and authorized purposes, with violators facing substantial fines, lengthy imprisonment, and property forfeiture. This legislation, endorsed by parliament last year, signifies a progressive stance on the controlled use of certain substances.

  • The Civil Aviation Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2024 aligns Uganda’s aviation authority with the Convention on International Civil Aviation. It empowers a chief investigator to initiate inquiries into aircraft accidents or serious incidents occurring within Uganda or any contracting state that doesn’t plan to conduct an investigation.

The chief investigator will also oversee investigations into accidents or incidents involving aircraft registered in Uganda or operated by Ugandan operators. This law, passed earlier this month, enhances the aviation regulatory framework.

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  • The Judicature (Amendment) Bill, 2023 introduces an increase in the number of judges in both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court, Uganda’s highest court, and the Court of Appeal, functioning as the Constitutional Court, hear appeals from the High Court. This amendment addresses the need for expanded judicial capacity.
  • The Explosives Act 2023 focuses on regulating the licensing and use of explosives in the mining sector. It repeals the existing Explosives Act of 1936 and establishes the role of Chief Explosives Inspector. The law defines explosives, emphasizing their use in mining and related activities, excluding those designated for military purposes.

Stringent penalties are outlined in clauses 28 and 29, imposing fines of Shs10 billion or a 10-year jail term, or both, for unauthorized possession or use of explosives. Clause 29 outlines the licensing procedure, with the Minister of Internal Affairs granted authority to determine licensing fees. This legislation aims to enhance safety and oversight in the handling of explosives within the mining industry.

  • The Competition Act, 2023 is intended to facilitate fair competition in markets and prevent practices having adverse impacts on competition in markets and primarily seeks to control anti-competitive behaviour of firms that has a negative impact on competition in Uganda’s market.