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Uganda
03.07.15
Urgent Interventions

Dismissal of charges against Mr. Gerald Kankya


New information
UGA 001 / 0215 / OBS 010.1
Dismissal of charges
Uganda
July 3, 2015

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the InternationalFederation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention inthe following situation in Uganda.

New information:

The Observatory has beeninformed by reliable sources about the dismissal of charges against Mr. GeraldKankya, Executive Director of the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC), which,since 2006, has been working to combat unlawful evictions from public communityland[1].

According to theinformation received, on July 1, 2015, the Fort Portal Magistrate’s courtdismissed charges related to grievous assault against Mr. Kankya, following thefailure by the prosecution to produce any evidence of Mr. Kankya's guilt.

The Observatory recallsthat Mr. Kankya has been the target of a constant judicial harassment forseveral months now. Indeed, on March 24, 2015, in a separate case, Mr. Kankyawas arrested and briefly detained on accusations of assaulting a journalist.The case was similarly dismissed by the Fort Portal Magistrate's court on May20, 2015[2].

The Observatory welcomesthe decision of the Magistrate's court and thanks all the persons, institutionsand organisations who intervened in his favour. Furthermore, the Observatorycalls upon the Ugandan authorities to ensure the protection and a favourableenvironment for human rights defenders operating in the country.

Background information:

On January 23, 2015, at2:30 p.m. in Fort Portal town, Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Simon Amanyirewere attacked by approximatively 30 men wearing Queen Mother Best KemigisaNursery, Primary and Vocational Schools traffic reflectors jackets, armed withclubs and allegedly commanded by the District Police commander Mr. GeoffreyKahebwa and another police officer. As the two defenders were on their way totheir offices, the group of men started moving towards them allegedly oninstructions of the District Police Commander.

After they wereviolently wrestled to the ground, the attackers attempted to steal importantoffice files in their possession, including a document compiling cases on landgrabbed by the Queen Mother Best Kemigisa project as part of the petitionaddressed to the President of Uganda. The attackers were allegedly eachpromised 20,000 Uganda shillings (approximately EUR 6) and were offered anextra 50,000 Ugandan shillings (approximately EUR 15) if they obtained thedocuments.

According to the medicalexamination carried out after the assault at Fort Portal Regional referralhospital, which qualified the attack as “grievous harm”, Mr. Kankya suffers frombruises on the left knee, bruises on the left hand, injuries in the mouth, abroken incisor tooth and sprained right hand thumb.

On January 24, 2015, Mr.Kankya was examined by a doctor at the request of the local police in order tobe able to file a complaint.

However, several policeofficers refused to record a complete statement, arguing that they were understrict orders not to record any statement from a member of TLC on chargesrelated to assault. They also refused to accept the medical report obtained byMr. Kankya.

Mr. Kankya was furtherinformed that three of the alleged perpetrators had filed a complaint againsthim for “grievous assault”.

The trial on charges of“grievous assault” which opened on March 24, 2015, was reported several timesdue to the lack of witnesses and evidence and as the police file was missing.


The Observatory wishes to thank all of the individualsand organizations that have taking action as a response to the urgent appealand have written to the Ugandan authorities on behalf of Mr. Gerald Kankya. No further action iscurrently required on your part concerning this case.


***

Paris-Geneva, July 3, 2015

Kindly inform us of anyaction undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDHand OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders andaims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact theObservatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +331 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 4122 809 49 29

[1] TLC broadcasts weekly programs onhuman rights education, performs capacity building to enhance the ability ofhuman rights defenders to perform their activities in the region, providescivic education, monitors and documents human rights violations, and challengesunlawful government actions in courtLately, TLC in partnership with localleaders and 25 victims of illegal evictions petitioned the President of Ugandaagainst the Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Nursery, Primary and Vocational Schoolproject. TLC reportedly sent out over 1000 messages to members of parliament,Ministers and citizens informing them of the alleged land grabbing, and callingon them to appeal to the President not to go forward with the launching of theproject.

[2] Seethe Observatory's press release on May 27, 2015.

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