By Charles Etukuri
The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has finally broken its silence over what it termed the prolonged and unlawful detention of novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.
In a statement released over the weekend, ULS president Pheona Nabasa Wall demanded that the Police and other security organs immediately abide by the order issued by the Chief Magistrate’s Court of Makindye to unconditionally release Kakwenza.
“That an investigation is held into the illegal detention, unwarranted cruel and inhuman treatment allegedly subjected to Kakwenza and if found to be true, then the culprits be apprehended and subjected to due process of the law,” ULS stated.
ULS further said it was “concerned with the recent prolonged and unlawful detention of Kakwenza allegedly on charges of offensive communication and he has been in unlawful detention for over 10 days now in an ungazetted detention facility.”
ULS also noted that it had been brought to their attention that “his lawyers obtained an order for his unconditional release on January 4, 2022, issued by the Chief Magistrate’s Court of Makindye, however, the Police and the security agencies have still refused to release him as ordered by the court despite several attempts from his advocates and his family.”
However, on January 6, the Solicitor General wrote to the Chief Magistrate Makindye Court indicating the Attorney General was dissatisfied with the ruling by Grade One Magistrate Irene Nambatya ordering the release of Kakwenza and wanted access to copies of the file to take appropriate action.
ULS also noted that they had received reports that Kakwenza has been subjected to torture and inhuman treatment at the hands of security forces.
“The ULS finds these acts and omissions by the State and security agencies unacceptable, unlawful and in contravention of the Constitution of Uganda,” Wall said.
ULS condemned these illegal actions and omissions by the State and security agencies which have undermined the independence of the judiciary, the legal profession and the rule of law in Uganda.
“Disrespect of court orders not only undermines the power of the Judiciary to administer justice, but also creates a risk of the public losing faith in seeking remedies from courts which might lead them to anarchy.”
The association for lawyers in Uganda quoted Article 23 of the Constitution which requires that a person shall be kept in a place authorised by law and also be informed of the reasons for the detention and of his rights to a lawyer of his or her choice.
“Article 23 (4) of the Constitution also requires that a person detained if not earlier released be brought to court as soon as possible, but in any case, not later than forty-eight hours from the time of his arrest. Article 23 (5) (a-c) of the Constitution further requires that where a person is detained, his next-of-kin shall be informed as soon as practicable of the detention. The next-of-kin, lawyer and personal doctor shall also be allowed reasonable access to that person among others.”
ULS noted that the current continued detention of Kakwenza was in breach of Article 23, as well as several other provisions under the Constitution of Uganda.
Kakwenza was arrested on December 28 from his home in Kisaasi by operatives from the Crime Intelligence Directorate.
Last Monday, January 3, the Police said Kakwenza was arrested over his repeated social media posts in which he abused President Yoweri Museveni and the First Son, also the Commander of the Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
Criminal Investigations Division spokesperson Charles Twine Mansio said on several occasions, Kakwenza used his social media platforms to make posts that were belittling, abusive and personal to the two members of the first family.
“On December 24, using his Twitter handle electronically without any purpose of legitimate communication repeatedly abused the president of the Republic of Uganda using derogatory abusive and belittling his person. On 26th, the same gentleman through the same forum using the same belittling, derogatory and abusive words, he made similar statements and attacked the person of Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba without any legitimate purpose of communication, “Twiine said.
On Thursday, the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) said it was closely following the matter of the detention of Kakwenza with the relevant authorities.
UHRC said whereas the Constitution bars it from investigating matters before the court, it decided to follow this matter closely.
“We have received assurances that he (Kakwenza) will be produced in court soon,” UHRC said in a tweet.