Urgent Interventions

Press Release: Police raids Uganda Pride event, arrests several human rights defenders and assaults participants

OnAugust 4, 2016, at 11:30 pm, the police raided at an event organised at theoccasion of Ugandan LGBTI Pride celebrations in Kampala's Venom nightclub. Ms. ClareByarugaba, Equality & Non-Discrimination Coordinator at Chapter FourUganda, and two leaders of the Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Messrs. PepeJulian Onziema and Franck Mugisha, were arrested together with otheractivists. They were questioned at the police station for three hours. They were all released without charges but they said thatduring their detention, they were slapped and pushed around by officers.

The other 200 people attending thepride show were locked up in the building for two hours and humiliated.Transgender women were particularly harassed by the police who sexuallyassaulted several of them by touching their breast and butts to “confirm theiridentity”.

At 1 am, the police decided to cancelthe event, and before leaving the place, took pictures of all the participantsthreatening to publish them and confiscated journalists' cameras andrecordings.

Kayima Emilian, the police spokesman,explained that the police had to intervene as the organisers did not notify theevent to the authorities. The police claimed that the event was promotinghomosexual relations and that they had received information regarding a gaywedding to be held during the party. However, the police had been duly informedof the event, and the prior Pride events which had been organised in theprevious days were conducted without any incidents.

This brutal raid is a clear violationof the right to peacefull assembly. It appears as an attempt to repress sexualminorities and rights defenders, in a context where LGBTI citizens routinelyface violence and discimination. The police should protect them, not attackthem, said FIDH President Karim Lahidhi.

It has to be reminded thathomosexuality is a sensitive issue in Uganda where same-sex relationships areillegal. On August 1, 2014, the Constitutional Court of Uganda invalidated ananti-LGBTI law adopted by the Parliament on December 20, 2013.

The Government of Uganda should ensure that rightsdefenders do not face any acts of intimidation. An immediate, thorough,impartial and transparent investigation should be conducted into the August 4brutal incidents in order to identify all those responsible, bring them beforean independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law”, said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

The Observatory calls upon the Uganda authorities toput an end to the harassment against LGBT rights activists and protect them, aswell as all other human rights defenders in the country.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is tointervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, theEuropean Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by internationalcivil society.

For more information, please contact:

FIDH: Arthur Manet / Audrey Couprie: + 33 143552518

OMCT: Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui: +32 4966903 / Delphine Reculeau: +41228094934