By Spy Uganda
The East Africa Law Society (EALS), an umbrella regional bar association, on Saturday, January 8, issued a statement “strongly condemning” the violation of the rights of Ugandan author and human rights activist, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.
This comes shortly after Eva Basima, the wife of Rukirabashaija, who was detained three days after Christmas, has started legal action against the country’s police chiefs – demanding that she be able to see him.
The EALS noted that over the past week, human rights actors in Uganda, East Africa and internationally, have relentlessly demanded the release of the award-winning writer who was reportedly picked up from his residence in Kisaasi, a Kampala suburb, on December 28, 2021.
“He has been held incommunicado beyond the 48 hours stipulated under Ugandan Law. A court order for his unconditional release secured on January 4, 2022, has not been respected to date,” the statement reads.
“The East Africa Law Society strongly condemns the violation of his rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of Uganda and several international instruments to which Uganda is a party, including the Treaty Establishing the East African Community which obliges member countries to ensure respect for human rights and observance of rule of law (Article 6 (d) and Article 7 (2).”
Most importantly, it is noted, EALS strongly condemns the continued disregard of the court order issued in this matter.
“Respect for court orders is the heart of all judicial systems and the cornerstone for rule of law. We urge the Government of Uganda to respect the court order and afford Mr. Rukirabashaija constitutionally guaranteed due process.”
On Tuesday, a court ordered the police to release Rukirabashaija unconditionally, but he remains in custody.
His wife, as reported in Ugandan media, filed a lawsuit against the Special Forces Command (SFC) chief and the Inspector General of Police. She says she has not seen her husband, a critic of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, since he was arrested by heavily armed special forces officers at their home.
SFC is an elite force that protects the Ugandan President and which has previously been linked to torture and other human rights violations against people perceived to be opponents of President Museveni.
The police accuse Rukirabashaija of using social media to “abuse and belittle” the president and his son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
Rukirabashaija won last year’s Pen Pinter Prize’s International Writer of Courage award
He is best known for The Greedy Barbarian, a satirical novel that describes high-level corruption in a fictional country, and the Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous, an account of the torture he was subjected to while in detention in 2020.