People's choice gavel

Missing Baby

The High Court of Uganda finds a hospital’s negligence resulting in the disappearance of the couple’s baby resulted in psychological torture for the parents and violated their right to health and right to access to information.

  • Country: Uganda
  • Edition: 2017
  • Visits: 29500
  • Court: High Court of Uganda at Kampala
  • Date of the Decision: 24/01/2017
  • Votes: 3829

A woman delivered two babies in a hospital. She was not aware that she was pregnant with twins and never received antenatal care. The parents of the children claimed the woman gave birth to two live babies while the hospital alleged the second baby was born dead. At the couple's insistence to see their baby, the hospital gave them the body of another baby that was not their child, as later confirmed by the DNA tests. The parents of the child, along with non-governmental advocacy organization, the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) sued the attorney general and executive director of the hospital for unlawful disappearance of their baby.

The Court finds the hospital’s negligence resulting in the disappearance of the couple’s baby resulted in violation of the right to be free from torture and violated their rights to health and to access to information as the hospital could not adequately account for the whereabouts of her second baby, confirm when the baby died or why the couple could not see the baby. The decision is a critical one as it outlines a State’s obligations under international law to devote special attention and resources to women whose circumstances make them vulnerable and those who suffer from multiple forms of inequality. 

The decision specifies that a woman’s inability to access sufficient antenatal care demonstrates a failure on the part of the State to fulfill its obligations under the right to health. In addition, it determines that the couple was a victim of psychological torture by not giving them the body of the deceased baby, for denying them the right to a dignified burial and for not being able to mourn their deceased child.

Judges who issued the decision

Lydia Mugambe


  • Patricia

    Creo que esta decisión es muy importante para la lucha en el reconocimiento y expansión de los derechos sexuales y reproductivos. Además, este tipo de jurisprudencia podría tenerse en cuenta a la hora de juzgar el robo de bebés en España en maternidades públicas y privadas durante el Franquismo y primeros años de democracia teniendo en cuenta la perspectiva de género y la capacidad reproductiva de la mujer como un bien jurídico protegido.
  • Kaganga John

    Justice Lydia Mugambe, a Ugandan High Court judge worthy to be voted among the best in 2017 Gender Justice for advancing rights of women and girls for the right decision she took specifying that, a woman’s inability to access sufficient antenatal care demonstrates a failure on the part of the State to fulfill its obligations under the right to health because the victim suffered psychological torture by not being given their body of the deceased baby denying them the right to a dignified burial and for not being able to mourn their deceased child, this is a lesson to learn by the state that many irregularities are happening in its healthy facilities every day.
  • William Okabo Achol

    The judgement gives hope that there is yet some sanity and professionalism in my country .
  • Festo Nsenga

    The case set a great precedent in this area after many patients raised complaints of missing babies, and or switching of babies, especially in public hospitals. Certainly justice was done .
  • Esther Obaikol

    Lady Justice Lydia Mugambe in the execution of her duties dared to do what many would not. Through her judgment she stood up for the powerless and gave voice to thousands of Ugandan and particularly Ugandan mothers who face injustices in the health delivery system. Voting for her is the very least I can do. Bravo Lady Justice Mugambe!
  • Sahro Ahmed Koshin

    I am a Somali woman living in Somalia. I am deeply disturbed by the stolen baby. I stand alongside my Ugandan sisters. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. I applaud the judge for this ruling and that is why I am voting for this case. I hope the case wins so that hospitals learn a lesson to do better in looking after babies delivered under their care, including poor mothers' babies. This case brings to light the complexities of poverty, gender and justice issues. Sahro Ahmed Koshin Garowe, Somalia
  • Kawuma Fred

    Plz lets all vote for lady Justice Lydia mugambe for her good judgment she made
  • Adebasiku Vincent

    Justice Lydia, according to Vincent, you don’t only deserve accolade. Vincent is optimistic that the offices such as of Chief Justice, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Inspectorate of Government and Speaker of Parliament if at all are higher could match your potency and ability. It’s so sad that human beings habitually forget to appreciate and recognize important works like of yours, instead discovery of your perfect works may result into mayhem. Nevertheless, God Almighty will mark your footsteps with assiduousness through each and every barrier. Vincent endeavored to endorse vote for your Excellency.
  • Arthur Larok

    Working for an organization, ActionAid, that seeks justice for women whose lives and full potential are deprived by a society that undervalues, under recognizes and often abuses women's dignity, I am happy that Justice Lydia Mugambe stood and continues to fly the banner for greater gender justice in Uganda. That's why I have voted for her. A

    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has set out the fundamental rights for all children. As with the European Convention on Human Rights, these rights are deemed to apply to all children regardless of race, gender, parentage, location or other differences. The preamble to the Convention specifically states that the rights contained in the Convention apply to children both before and after birth. Article 3 of the Convention states that in all actions relating to children, the interests of the child must be a " primary consideration". Article 6 recognizes that every child has the right to life. Article 24 requires steps to be taken to ensure that medical assistance and health care is given to all children. The UK ratified the UN Convention in 1991 and so did Uganda. This means that UK and Uganda should take all the necessary steps the declarations contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. So, I encourage all Human Rights Defenders around the world to vote for Hon.Justice Lydia Mugambe for promoting and protecting the rights of children. NOTE; The Author is a Student of Human Rights and Law at Law Development Centre, Kampala, Uganda.
  • Apio Winfred Kavuma

    This is a great judgement that opened the doors for disadvantaged women to get justice. She deserves the award.
  • Immaculate Busingye

    The judgment of lady justice Lydia Mugame shows the relationship between human rights protection and enforcement by courts of Law. Next time the health facilities will be more careful while handling mothers and their new borne babies
  • Kesiime Sheila

    I strongly believe that the ruling was deservedly.I was personally psychologically tortured when I was attending to my sister in hostel when she gave birth minutes past 1:00am. Because these midwives couldn't be trusted I followed one with our baby to make sure she doesn't switch him. She saw me peep in nursery where she was alone with baby, then she called me in and asked me to tie the umbilical cord to which I hasted and just looked at her. The reaction from her was unbelievable;..."He is your baby, you can let him die." That's when I realized she was serious about it and I just got the strings and tied them without contact as had been instructed, she picked scissors cut the extra length of string I held...then pointed to to bin where to drop the parts I was holding,to which I did. Through the whole process my hands were shaking because naturally I fear dealing with open wounds, but for life of my nephew I did what I had to do. But was amazed by level of unprofessionalism that midwife displayed....we need more people like Justice Lydia Mugambe to save us the moral decay.
  • Kyomuhendo A. Ateenyi

    Justice Mugambe's reputation as a fearless defender of the vulnerable and the Rule of Law on the Ugandan bench continues to grow by the day. This is yet another decision cementing her esteemed role. With such progressive judicial officers and such pronouncements, there is little doubt that the notions of equality of all before the law and accountability undergirded by Uganda's Constitution are taking center-stage. This is one decision to celebrate.
  • Roseline Nsenge

    This is a ground breaking judgement in the history of our Country. Justice has finally been done to expectant women in Uganda.
  • Jonathan Ochom

    Every aspiring parent has every reason to vote for this case. The customer service in most health facilities is wanting and such cases of baby theft and general neglidence are bound to happen. This case is therefore good for our jurisprudence. It guarantees the parent's right to information regarding their babies. It's the reason I vote Justice Lydia Mugambe's decision.
  • Busingye Kabumba

    This decision is a good example of the impact a rights-based approach to jurisprudence in terms of bringing to life constitutional guarantees and protections.
  • Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe

    Justice Lydia Mugambe-Ssali is a flag-bearer in ensuing gender justice through courts of law. This has enabled for translating rights into realities for citizens and giving women and girls a world of worthiness, dignity and personhood. We are so very proud of her as the Women's Movement in Uganda and Africa at large. She has our full support for the nomination of the prestigious Gavel Award – Lydia surely deserves it.
  • Maleche

    Great case raising key issues affecting the health of women and the injustices women face in accessing health care services. Well done CEHURD and all the partners who are involved in this amazing case.
  • Yiga Robert Kiwana

    I am Yiga Robert Kiwana a lawyer and Executive Director of Uganda Public Rescue Foundation (a human rights and legal aid service providers), i was so torched, The case set a great precedent in this area after many patients raised complaints of missing babies, and or switching of babies, especially in public hospitals, Certainly justice was done, Tel; +256702527405
  • Halimah Kaggwa Bukenya

    This is a landmark case that potrays the protection and enforcement of the right to life against a health facility that breached that right due to negligence.
  • MARIE Mukasa Ssenyonjo

    Justice Lydia Mugambe is known foe her up right & fair judgements.De are proud of her

    This decision gave hope to many mothers in Uganda who go to public hospitals to deliver.

    A very bold decision from a very courageous woman. A practice that had persisted for many years without any intervention. The only reason evil wins is because we good people do not display courage while under fire!
  • Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva

    Anyone who supports full rights of women, maternal health, protection of children and antenatal care, deserves our vote.
  • Stella Maris Amabilis

    This is a case which covers issues of reproductive health rights which affects women all over the world.however this is a virgin area in uganda.I appauld you Judge Lydia this judgement will be a precedent in ugandan jurisprudence. God bless you
  • Samuel Herbert Nsubuga

    My work of advocating against torture in particular and promoting and protecting of human rights in general relates to this case, that is why the ruling of Justice Lydia Mugambe deserves the award hence my vote!
  • Constance Tuheirwe

    This was a landmark decision because various similar instances have happened to many mothers. This has put the medical establishments to improve on service delivery especially in respect to pre and post natal care.
  • Me Trésor Makunya

    This is a judgment of hope, a judgment that recalls all medical practitioners their duty toward the community, patients and the entire humanity. The judge I want you vote for was able to deconstruct the general known irresponsibility of health institutions toward patients in detriment of lives of human being. It is also an example to all of us!
  • Rebecca Nakiranda

    The decision is great as it portrays a firm stand by the Lady Judge to protect the rights of Women and Children. The Woman was greatly tortured and will die tortured for not being given a chance to see her baby that she carried for Nine months. In absence of a dead body of the child. i believe this child is living with a strange family. The child's rights to live with its parents were and are still violated. Even if it trues that the child died, it was denied a right to a decent burial. May Justice Mugambe win the award and may she rise to greater heights.
  • Jobito Lawrence

    i vote Justice Lydia Mugambe
  • Jobito Lawrence

    i vote for Justice Lydia Mugambe
  • Saudah Nsereko

    it is a judgment worth voting for. Its high time government is held accountable for their neglect of the right to health
  • Rose Mary Kemigisha

    In a country where the duty bearers quickly jump on the excuse of the questionable justiceability of health rights, just because they are not expressly provided for in the main articles of the national Constitution, this is a very welcome breath of fresh air. As someone who works in the human rights field, I know how critically important Justice Lydia Mugambe Ssali's precedent will be!
  • Enid Nambuya

    Justice Lydia Bagambe Ssali you may not be aware of the length and breadth this ruling means to us in Uganda.This was a land mark case that gives more fire to human rights advocates to continue advocating for health rights for women and girls. Your stellar performance at the bench is applauded and deserves to be recognized at this level. You have my vote.
  • Nabaggala Celia

    May God bless our one and only Justice Lydia Mugambe for this judgement. She qualifies fr the gavel award sincerely so lets all vote for her please for she deserves it. I applaud you the golden hearted lady Justice Lydia Mugambe .
  • Ampairwe Elizabeth

    This indeed is a landmark decision in ensuring that gender justice is realized in the country. It unveils a ray of hope in a very corrupt justice system. The number of fathers that abandon their children with impunity is also alarming in this country. This should be a priority area as well with strategic collaborations between CSOs and lower courts of judicature.
  • Dinnah Kyasimiire

    Justice Lydia Mugambe is a great force to reckon with in the fight for justice of all persons at all levels and especially in the area of Human rights. We need more of the kind in our Justice system if we still want to remain relevant. I am proud of You and continue lifting the integrity that the Fraternity no longer seems to have in the eyes of the ordinary people.
  • Hàrriet namakula

    Lydia she's very hard working mother,she deserves to win because she her work 100%,and family not easy please she deserves this.
  • Daniel Evans Olwoch

    This is a land mark case in which the Judge granted an effective remedy. My Hon. Lady Justice you have not only made an historical judgment but also grant a life time effective remedy desperately needed in human rights violations. Your judgment gave a structural injunction to ensure non repetition. May your learned brothers and sisters follow your footsteps.

    Lady Justice Lydia Mugambe Ssali's pronouncement of this Judgement marked the Re-birth of knowledge in the Judicial practices and the same ear-marked the RED-MARKS in the Uganda's Health Facilities more so in the Re-known Hospitals which need immediate attention. The Government at large was put to task on the criteria of selection and assigning it's public servants roles yet in high profile positions. The Lady Justice's decision was indeed a Milestone in the Uganda's Judicial system and practices but more so in the Legal Fraternity, highlighted key important areas of;- 1. Human Rights 2. State weakness in the Health Sectors 3. Inequality in service provision, making many more Vulnerable 4. Poor or Lack of professionalism in some public sectors 5. Yet No recognition of the Ethical codes of conduct ALL need and , "I suggest", - Health Sector and Human Resources Strengthening - Serious and Immediate Public Sector Development and Attitudinal Change Initiatives, - Among others. Lady Justice Lydia, you deserve my VOTE and worthy Votes from many others as the best Female Justice 2017!!
  • Elly Bryan Nnyanzi

    I vote for lady justices Lydia Mugambe.
  • Lydia Namuli Lukwago

    We are proud of Justice Lydia Mugambe for the continued blending of concepts of Law and Human Rights.
  • Justine Nassimbwa

    I am so proud of you judge Lydia Mugambe for the excellent judgement you gave on my case related to the above. You deserve much more than just that award. God bless you always. I love you
  • sekanyo Enock

    The hander you achieve something you will feel when you achieve it so we pray for you and we know you will make it be the winner
  • Chwa Walter

    Justice kanyihamba used to claim professionalism in justice. But to me I have only spotted justice Lidya mugambe. I worked with her for some time but I witnessed total fairness in her life. Considering all the cases she has ever chaired including lukwago's impeachment. All her ruling could match public views and demand. We trust in your judgements Lidya
  • Irene Ovonji-Odida

    Uganda Women Lawyers Association (FIDA Uganda) salutes Justice Lydia Mugambi for her commitment to social justice!
  • Irene Ovonji-Odida

    The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA Uganda), a proud partner of Women's Link Worldwide, salutes Justice Mugambi for her consistent commitment to social justice and principled stand on human rights.
  • Jack .S. Matte

    There's still hope in our courts aleast
  • kirabira paul

    Lydia Mugambe is the best
  • Annette Nassejje Natutedda

    I vote for justice Lydia Mugambe for her good judgement she made for a disadvantaged family which gave hope to all parents that there's justice. I admire her courage and hard work she puts in to see that all Ugandans get justice.
  • Justus muhangi

    This is fearless Lady who has made it to make Rule of law applied to all Positions held. Many votes pliz
  • Birabwa-Nsubuga Christine

    Hon. Justice Lydia Mugambe Ssali! This is the kind of Judicial activism that we have been waiting for. It will help to deal with the impunity with which many public officials work, simply because there is no accountability required on their part! This Decision impacts on an area so neglected that I thank God for remembering mothers, especially the poor and vulnerable ones!
  • Muzeyi Vicent

    I have no doubt that you're the best and earthily awards may not be enough but I am very sure that the eternal award is awaiting you. Never the less, I voted for you for seeing the need to add value to humanity and the women affairs. All the best.
  • Agnes Kirabo

    The judgement gives us hope that Economic Social and Cultural Rights can be justice able. This progressive real is at ion MUST BE STOPED
  • Agnes Kirabo

    Real hope for justice in case economic social and cultural rights are violated
  • Nicholas Opiyo

    This is a bold and progressive decision that has stood out as one of the best decisions from the Ugandan High Court in recent times. This decision has not only highlighted the need to protect the rights of patients but will go along way in sanitizing medical medical practice; ridding it of malpractice. It will draw the attention of medical workers to human rights principles.
  • Lillian kelle

    Judge Lydia is one of the most impartial people I have ever known . She does not let anything or anyone influence her judgements . This judgement has set a precedent . Situations like this are becoming too common in Uganda. I hope this case wins . I am glad to call Ms Mugambe a friend .
  • Cissy Kagaba

    Justice Mugambe's decision is a land mark precedent that seeks to address the plight of the disadvantaged.
  • Paul F. Mudau

    Its a landmark decision that serves as a footprint for acutely extending the promotion and protection of reproductive rights by the judiciary in Africa.
  • Lydia Naddamba

    How I wish Uganda had as many intelligent, courageous judges of subtance like Justice Lydia Mugambe whose rulings are guided by fairness and not who has big pockets of money. She gives us hope that not all is lost and deserves this award!
  • Agnes Kabwisho

    I would like to applaud the Lady Justice for taking such a bold step to ensure that the voiceless mothers are heard!This is indeed unprecedented and you deserve much more than an accolade!

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