Free speech, defence of the Constitution give faint hope

Thursday September 6 2018

Karoli Ssemogerere

Karoli Ssemogerere 

By Karoli Ssemogerere

Four very sharp voices emerged last week responding to the allegations of torture by Special Forces and police and the abuse of the courts by the DPP sanctioning charges whose essential ingredients did not exist.
Last week, the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, 68, wrote to his line minister, Justice minister Severino Kahinda Otafiire, also 68, protesting torture of suspects in custody. He later made remarks in public sharply critical of torture saying victims of torture could not be tried in court, a position of the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT).

These were prefaced by a sternly written letter by Speaker Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga after restive MPs got her to write to the President condemning torture of Members of Parliament. In fact, Kadaga 61, may have partly redeemed her image, which has been in tatters since she allowed a coup in Parliament while presiding over proceedings to amend the Constitution last year. Kadaga’s letter was quickly followed up by an ultimatum to the President to address Parliament within two days, an action likely to crystallise this week.

At the weekend, government detained a retired civil servant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Kato Kajubi, 63, from the storied family of Prof William Ssenteza Kajubi, whose mother Elsie Nabaloga, was a member of the Buganda royal family. In the end, the magnitude of the charges heaped on Kajubi had no connection with his uncharacteristically benign and low key personality. However, Kajubi’s arrest may have signalled a new effort to simply silence free speech, a stance taken by police spokesperson Emilian Kayima, an ex-seminarian and one of the young turks working to dig government deeper into a hole with impossible threats.

Kajubi’s decades old email moniker is bijumbuko, an easily discernible email address, whose world of the Internet is mostly associated with philanthropic and pro-royalist causes at Mengo. Kajubi allegedly forwarded audiovisual content on the Internet of some of the demonstrations that took place in the United States and many other countries protesting the arrest and detention of the Arua 34 led by MP Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu.

These demonstrations unlike the stone- throwing and ugly scenes that mark downtown confrontations with the police and security forces, in which the hero of the game was disgraced former IGP, “Afande teargas” had a very different content. People dropped off in Central London wearing slacks and spent the whole day in Trafalgar Square outside the Uganda High Commission. Well dressed, well coifed persona in Uganda, derisively referred to as the “elite” or “social media persona” by the domestic political class were the ones doing the talking and cat-walking.

In the United States, the demonstrators were received at the World Bank and IMF before demonstrating outside the offices of one of Uganda’s lobbyists in Washington D.C. Even edgy Munich, in Bayern Germany, where anti-refugee sentiments have fuelled pro-Nazism sentiments had black Ugandan demonstrators making their point.
These are the investors supporting millions in Uganda through transfer payments and remittances. Ugandan Diaspora now dominate foreign investment in Uganda. The false starts to the exits of MPs Kyagulanyi, 36, and Francis Zaake, 27, at the behest of police almost tipped the chalice again. Police were again accused of torture and certain other actions not worthy of reprint here.

MP Kyagulanyi, on arrival in the United States, has delivered a wrap-up of what happened and a harrowing tale of how he was treated at the hands of police and SFC. He also narrated how many people were beaten up on the night his driver Yasin Kawuma was shot in cold blood. The media have not been able to corner the IGP to find out why no suspects have been arrested in this matter. In fact, all the DPP’s brain effort was on justifying how stone-throwing was equivalent to treason, a major blemish on the legal profession.
The IGP, Martins Okoth-Ochola, 60, seems to be in the everlasting safe company of his deputy, Brig Sabiiti Muzeeyi, 42, the former head of SFC.

Mr Ssemogerere is an attorney-at-Law and an advocate. [email protected]