Assault / Theft of documents
Limitations of right to access to justice
February 13, 2015
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a jointprogramme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in thefollowing situation in Uganda.
Description of the situation :
The Observatory has been informed by the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC)about the assault of two of its staff members, its Executive Director, Mr. GeraldKankya, and its monitoring and documentation Officer, Mr. Simon Amanyire.TLC has been running a petition campaign to the President Mr. Yoweri Museveniagainst Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Nursery, Primary and Vocational School, aprivate commercial project developed on land grabbed from illegalexpropriations.
According to the information received, on January 23, 2015, at 2:30 p.m.in Fort Portal town, Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Simon Amanyire were attacked byapproximatively 30 men wearing Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Nursery, Primary andVocational Schools traffic reflectors jackets, armed with clubs and allegedlycommanded by the District Police commander Mr. Geoffrey Kahebwa and anotherpolice officer. As the two defenders were on their way to their offices, thegroup of men started moving towards them allegedly on instructions of theDistrict Police Commander.
After they were violently wrestled to the ground, the attackersattempted to steal important office files in their possession, including adocument compiling cases on land grabbed by the Queen Mother Best Kemigisaproject as part of the petition addressed to the President of Uganda. Theattackers were allegedly each promised 20,000 Uganda shillings (approximatelyEUR 6) and were offered an extra 50,000 Ugandan shillings (approximately EUR15) if they obtained the documents.
According to the medical examination carried out after the assault atFort Portal Regional referral hospital, which qualified the attack as “grievousharm”, Mr. Kankya suffers from bruises on the left knee, bruises on the lefthand, injuries in the mouth, a broken incisor tooth and sprained right handthumb.
On January 24, 2015, Mr. Kankya was examined by a doctor at the requestof the local police in order to be able to file a complaint. However, despiteof this several police officers refused to record a complete statement, arguingthat they were under strict orders not to record any statement from a member ofTLC on charges related to assault. They also refused to accept the medicalreport obtained by Mr. Kankya, and informed him that three of the allegedperpetrators had filed a complaint against him for assault.
TLC broadcasts weekly programs on human rights education, performscapacity building to enhance the ability of human rights defenders to performtheir activities in the region, provides civic education, monitors anddocuments human rights violations, and challenges unlawful government actionsin court.
Since 2006, it has been working to combat unlawful evictions from publiccommunity land. Lately, TLC in partnership with local leaders and 25 victims ofillegal evictions petitioned the President of Uganda against the Queen MotherBest Kemigisa Nursery, Primary and Vocational School project. TLC reportedlysent out over 1000 messages to members of parliament, Ministers and citizensinforming them of the alleged land grabbing, and calling on them to appeal tothe President not to go forward with the launching of the project.
The Observatoryexpresses its deep concern about the above-mentioned events, and fears thatMessrs. Gerald Kankya and Amanyire were attacked as a result of their humanrights activities. The Observatory calls for an immediate, thorough,transparent investigation into the assault of Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Amanyire, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before anindependent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law.
Please write to theauthorities in Uganda, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical andpsychological integrity of Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Amanyire as well as allhuman rights defenders in Uganda, including those addressing land-relatedconcerns;
ii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparentinvestigation into the beating of Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Amanyire, in orderto identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal,and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;
iii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparentinvestigation into the limitation of Mr. Gerald Kankya’s right to access tojustice following the refusal by the Fort Port local police to record hisstatement in order to identify those responsible for the order, bring thembefore an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by thelaw;
iv. Conform with the provisions of the UNDeclaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of theUnited Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
-Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and inassociation with others, to promote and to strive for the protection andrealisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national andinternational levels”;
-Article 5, which underscores the right of every individual to form, join, andparticipate in non-governmental organizations; and
-Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measuresto ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individuallyand in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, defacto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary actionas a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for humanrights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rightsstandards and international instruments ratified by Uganda.
· President Kaguta Yoweri Museveni, President ofthe Republic of Uganda, Office of thePresident of Uganda, State House Nakasero, P.O. Box 24594, Kampala, Uganda.Fax: +256 (0) 414 436 102 / + 256 41 4235459 / +256 41 4344012. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
· Attorney General and Minister of Justice andConstitutional Affairs, Hon. Kahinda Otafiire, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, ParliamentAvenue, P.O.Box 7183, Kampala, Uganda. Fax: + 256 41 4250829. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Mike Chibita, Director of PublicProsecutions, Ministry of Justice, Constitutional Affairs & the AttorneyGeneral, Tel: +256-414-332-502/332-504, Fax: +256-414-258-565/341-316, Email:email@example.com
· Minister of Internal Affairs, Hilary Onek, JinjaRd, PO Box 7191, Kampala, Uganda. Fax: + 256 414343088
· Dr. Steven Kasiima, Inspector General of Police,Telephone: +256 (0) 712 755 999
· H.E. Mr. Christopher Onyanga Aparr, PermanentMission of Uganda to the United Nations in Geneva, 6 bis rue Antoine Carteret,1202 Genève, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 340 70 30. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Embassy of Uganda to the EU in Brussels, 317avenue de Tervueren, 1150 Woluwe- Saint-Pierre, Belgium. Fax : + 322.763.04.38. Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Uganda inyour respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassiesin Uganda.