Uganda: End Inhumane Detentions Without Trial for Years
Ugandan activists are determined, especially now that they are being sensitized and made aware of their rights as citizens. They are confident in the justice of their cause. Surely, the regime must be aware that positive change is coming. Ugandans are determined to reclaim their dignity
Uganda: End Inhumane Years of Detentions Without Trial
[Global: Africa Commentary]
Here in Uganda we are on a mission to create a better society for all. In recent years there have been many cases of illegal detentions without trial of citizens sometimes lasting for years only for the courts to dismiss cases outright for reasons ranging from: Lack of evidence; lack of credible witnesses; and, inconsistent accounts by various witnesses.
This judicial travesty has caused grave harm and irreparable suffering to many Ugandan families. The latest example is of the "Buganda Youths," young men detained after the 2009 turbulence. Many were incarcerated for almost three years without trial.
On 14th May, 2012, the last 11 Buganda Youths, innocent men who had been incarcerated at Luzira Maximum Prison without trial, were finally freed. Justice Ralph Ochan of The High Court concluded that they had no case to answer and released them unconditionally.
Who will give them back the three years robbed from them? One of them informed me of the severe beating he suffered. Families were destroyed when wives could not afford to take care of children. We are determined to end such abuses.
As Concerned Citizens, today, we paid a visit to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to raise our concerns. We wanted him to consider the way he handles our citizens as many lives are being needlessly destroyed.
Unfortunately, the DPP, Mr. Richard Butera, chose not to face us. He tried to isolate us by demanding to know who the "leader" was. Later, they offered to meet two of us. There were several of us and we said we were all "leaders." We all had grievances and wanted to express them to the DPP. We will not yield to divide-and-rule. We hope fellow citizens adopt united stands.
One hour after the stalemate police arrived and the deputy Police commander of the Central Police Station (CPS) claimed our assembly was "illegal." Envelops containing our documents were snatched and we were crammed into an over-loaded elevator and driven in a police pick-up to Central Police Station and locked in the cells in the basement.
Is it not ironic that those who seek to improve the lives of fellow citizens are instead criminalized by the state?
We spent almost three hours there before we were called and taken to the boardroom to meet with Grace Turyagumanawe, the Assistant Inspector General of Police. The discussion was centered around the "right procedures." He said we should have notified police that we wanted to demonstrate; but we told him we didn’t have to because it is our right to meet public officials. After all, public officials are supposed to serve the citizens. We were told police could arrange a meeting with the DPP and released unconditionally.
Ugandan activists are determined, especially now that they are being sensitized and made aware of their rights as citizens. They are confident in the justice of their cause. Surely, the regime must be aware that positive change is coming. Ugandans are determined to reclaim their dignity.
The rest of the country must stand together. For Uganda to prosper, we need pro-people government. Government that cares about delivering services to the people as opposed to plundering our resources and amassing abnormal wealth for its members and their families.
We also appeal to the international community to put all the necessary pressure on the regime that it supports, to respect the human rights of all Ugandans.
Ms. Allimadi is an activist who lives in Kampala.