Meet The Fellow


Meet Kuuku Amos from Uganda.

Kuuku is an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda with a keen interest in upholding human rights law and social justice. Currently, Kuuku is hosted by the Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL) for the practicum. At NETPIL, Kuuku’s thirst for learning has been met with a wealth of knowledge, given the unique opportunity to learn from NETPIL’s wide network of lawyers from different Human Rights organisations. For Kuuku, a placement at NETPIL has been timely as he grounds his career in PIL practice.

Kuuku’s project challenges cash bail conditions in Uganda’s criminal justice system for being unconstitutionally founded. Article 23(6) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda guarantees the right to apply for bail, prescribing discretional conditions that a judicial officer may impose for an accused person to qualify and be released on bail; including a cash deposit. The overarching principle in deciding the conditions to be imposed on an applicant for bail is that the Court ought to consider such conditions to be reasonable. It has become practice that judicial officers use their discretionary powers to prescribe a condition of cash bail against accused persons who apply for bail. If the accused fails to pay, he or she is taken back to prison until such amount is paid or where it is revised by a higher court. This has made some accused persons who have been granted bail to be retained in prisons due to inability to pay. Kuuku contends that this is problematic as it discriminates against those without capacity to pay. He quotes President Lyndon B. Johnson (as he then was) :

“The defendant with means can afford to pay bail, he can afford to buy his freedom. But the poor defendant cannot pay the price. He stays in jail for one reason only — because he is poor.” ( Remarks at the Signing of the Bail Reform Act of 1966).

Statistics show that the majority of Ugandans are living in abject poverty, and unable to pay once they find themselves entangled in this arbitrary discretionary criminal justice system.

Furthermore, Kuuku argues that cash bail conditions also contribute to overcrowding and congestion in prison facilities. Against the accommodation capacity of 20,036 prisoners, Uganda Prison Services has a population of 74,414 inmates, of which 38,226 convicts, 35,743 on remand. A number of prisoners are granted cash bail, but still retained on remand due to inability to pay the decreed cash for bail, which inevitably also burdens the taxpayer and the limited national resources to sustain these prisoners.

Kuuku hopes that this case, once filed, will contribute to the jurisprudence of ‘decriminalization of poverty’. He seeks a declaration that the practice of cash bail contravenes the Constitution; an order for a review of all cash bail orders whose applicants are still in prison for failure to pay the decreed cash for bail; and an order directing subordinate courts to release on bail and on other conditions all prisoners still under detainment for having failed to pay cash for bail.

Besides Kuuku’s passion for law, Kuuku is (perhaps equally) passionate about football. He’s waited since 2004 for his favourite team Arsenal to win another Premier League title. Even after the last season — he remains an avid supporter of the club. Go Gunners!

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles” — Christopher Reeve

We wish Kuuku success!



East Africa Public Interest Advocates Programme

Training the next cadre of Public Interest Advocates across the East African region. Briefly put — lawyering for the greater good!