President Yoweri Museveni has returned the Sexual Offences Bill, 2021 to Parliament for reconsideration on grounds that a number of the clauses in the Act are already captured and provided for in the existing country’s law books.
In a letter to the Speaker of Parliament dated August 3, 2021, the President noted that several provisions of the Act like sections 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,12,13,14,15,17,18,19,20 and 22 are already provided for in the Penal Code Act Chapter XIII on offences against morality.
Museveni said that he has been informed that the Uganda Law Reform Commission had earlier carried out a comprehensive review of all criminal related laws like the Penal Code Act, Magistrates Court Act, Trial on Indictment Act and the Evidence Act, making several provisions of the Sexual Offences Bill redundant.
He further pointed out that the proposed amendments were presented by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament but were never considered.
He appealed to Parliament to allow the reviewing of all other criminal laws and propose comprehensive amendments of the relevant laws as opposed to piecemeal amendments.
On Monday, May 3, 2021, the Parliament of Uganda passed the Sexual Offences Bill 2019 providing for the criminalization of a range of sexual offences that have not been provided for in the existing law.
Some of the provisions within the law that address sexual exploitation of women include consent to withdrawal from a sexual act which attracted a prolonged debate over its applicability.
MPs in support of the provisions cited reasons such as refusal by one partner to use protection, the biological nature of male partners and the need for women to heal after birth.
Section 2 of the Bill provided for rape, Section 3 aggravated rape, Section 4 administering of substance with the intent of committing a sexual act, section 5 Sexual assault, section 6 Indecent communication, Section 7 Sexual harassment, section 8 Detention with sexual intent Section 9 Sexual act with person in custody, section 10 Sexual exploitation, Section 12 Incest.
Additionally, Section 13 Defilement, Section 14 Aggravated defilement, Section 15 Procuring defilement, Section 16 Sexual offences by children, Section 17 Householder permitting defilement, Section 18 Supply of sexual content and material to a child, Section 19 Child prostitution, Section 20 Child sex tourism and Section Marriage involving the child.
Article 91 (3) (b) of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda allows the President to return the bill to Parliament with a request that the bill or a particular provision of it be reconsidered by Parliament; or notify the Speaker in writing that he or she refuses to assent to the bill.