Friday, November 15 marked the passing of Justice Amos Twinomujuni of the Ugandan Supreme Court. Judge Twinomujuni was appointed to the Supreme Court in June of this year, but was unable to serve due to health issues. Prior to this appointment, Twinomujuni was a justice on the Court of Appeals of Uganda, which also convenes as the Constitutional Court.
Twinomujuni was well known for his Constitutional Court opinions and dissents, many of which were very progressive on women’s rights and other human rights issues. In 2004, Twinomujuni wrote the opinion of the Constitutional Court finding that sex discriminatory provisions of the Divorce Act violated the rights of both men and women, in contravention of Uganda’s constitution. In 2010, he notably dissented from the Constitutional Court’s refusal to find the practice of demanding payment of bride price unconstitutional, arguing that, “the practice no longer serves any useful purpose in society. It has now become purely commercialized and highly exploitative and humiliating to women.” Twinomujuni instead supported the emergence of practice of a marriage payment that “is voluntary…is not demanded…does not humiliate the bride and…is never refunded when the marriage breaks down.” Twinomujuni has also authored opinions upholding the guarantees associated with the right to a fair trial, declaring the custom of female genital mutilation unconstitutional, and protecting freedom of speech while delineating the limited circumstances under which the government may limit a fundamental constitutional right.
His presence on the court will certainly be missed.