By Spy Uganda Correspondent
USA: Following the arrest of senior human rights lawyer Nicholas Opio and presidential candidate Hon Robert Kyagulanyi’s lawyers, both local and international activists have asked the US government to punish “let’s make Museveni happy while brutalizing innocent Ugandans” police officers by imposing on them toughest sanctions.
Among the activists who have been touched by Uganda’s rotting security state is known Kyagulanyi’s international lawyer based in US Robert Amsterdam who have since wrote to the US’ house of representatives asking them to act on Uganda in a special way to save innocent citizens dying every day due to police’s brutality.
The detention of Nick Opiyo cannot stand. It is an indictment not only of M7 and the killers that masquerade as law enforcement but of the willingness of the AU and others to grant the old boys club of sclerotic dictators impunity for their cynical debasing of rule of law.
— Robert Amsterdam (@robertamsterdam) December 23, 2020
Mr Amsterdam, who also represented Tanzanian opposition figure Tundu Lissu and Cameroon’s Maurice Kamto, says that the actions by the regime of President Yoweri Museveni represents a clear and unambiguous attack on the democratic rights of the Ugandan people.
I just met @NickOpiyo & was impressed by his commitment to rule of law & to uplifting his fellow citizens. News of his arrest is troubling & I call on the Ugandan Government to ensure his safety & wellbeing. Civil society must be able to carry out its essential role in #Uganda. https://t.co/RnyzbnRJnk
— U.S. Ambassador to Uganda (@USAmbUganda) December 22, 2020
Read Full Letter Below;
“LONDON WASHINGTON DC 2200 PENNSYLVANIA AVE NW FOURTH FLOOR EAST WASHINGTON DC 20037 MAIN:+1 202 301 8811
Hon. Rep. Elliot L. Engel Chairman on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee 2426 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Hon. Rep. Michael McCaul Lead Republican of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee 2001 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
RE:Urgent Appeal For Action On Uganda
December 22, 2020
I am writing to you with regard to urgently concerning developments of human rights violations taking place at the hands of the Uganda Police Force with the intentional aim of interfering with the right to legal counsel.
Our firm acts as international counsel to Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, a Member of Parliament and leading opposition candidate for the National Unity Platform (NUP) contesting in the January 14, 2021 Presidential elections.
Today on December 22 we are notified that our colleague, the distinguished human rights attorney Nicholas Opiyo, was brutally arrested by plainclothes officers of the Uganda Police Force, blindfolded, and thrown into an unmarked van and taken to a secret location.
Later the police would claim without evidence that the arrest was related to “money laundering” accusations. Mr. Opiyo was arrested at a restaurant alongside four other lawyers, Dakasi Herbert, Odur Anthony and Esomu Obure, as well as Tenywa Hamid, a human rights officer with the NUP.
This action by the regime of President Yoweri Museveni represents a clear and unambiguous attack on the democratic rights of the Ugandan people.
Such thuggish scare tactics and trumped up charges are aimed at discouraging the investigation being led by these lawyers into the police killings of 37 protesters on the 18th and 19th of November.
We are very grateful for the letter you both signed on December 9, 2020 to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in which you called for seven top Ugandan security officials to face individual sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act for their role in rights abuses.
This letter correctly argues that “it is imperative that the United States and its international partners act to prevent further destabilization in Uganda and facilitate the opening of civic and political space for which Ugandan citizens are mobilizing.”
As noted in your letter, President Museveni has not responded to diplomatic rhetoric. And with the brazen arrest of Mr. Opiyo, the most well known face of human rights in the country, it is clear that Museveni also does not respond to rhetoric regarding sanctions.
The time is now to follow through and apply these targeted penalties before it is too late.
We respectfully urge that the leadership of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee put its full weight behind this call for individual Magnitsky Act sanctions via a resolution urging action on behalf of both Treasury and State Department.”