Nicholas Opiyo's arrest is troubling, says US ambassador

Police said Tuesday that Nicholas Opiyo was arrested by a joint task team of security and financial intelligence on allegations of money laundering and related malicious acts. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • Opio was picked was picked up by plain clothed security operative from a restaurant in Kamwokya on Tuesday where he was having lunch with his friends. 
  • Dr Kizza Besigye, the former Forum for Democratic Change president also weighed in, saying that the arrest of Opiyo is not surprising since his home was broken into in September and communication devices picked.

The United States (US) Mission has criticized the arrest of Human Rights Lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo and tasked the government to ensure his safety.

Opiyo was picked was picked up by plain clothed security operative from a restaurant in Kamwokya on Tuesday where he was having lunch with his friends. 
Uganda Police later confirmed his arrest by the Special Investigations Division-SID for his alleged involvement in money laundering and other related malicious acts.

“We would like to confirm the arrest of lawyer Nicholas Opiyo, by a joint task team of security and financial intelligence on allegations of money laundering and related malicious acts”, the police said in a statement on its Facebook page on Tuesday evening.  
His arrest has sparked condemnation from various quarters including foreign missions. In a statement posted on her official Twitter handle, the US Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown describes the arrest as troubling.

"I just met Opiyo and was impressed by his commitment to rule of law and to uplifting his fellow citizens. News of his arrest is troubling and I call on the Ugandan Government to ensure his safety and wellbeing. Civil society must be able to carry out its essential role in Uganda," Natalie wrote.
She appreciated human rights activists and the leadership of the Uganda Law Society for shining light on human rights issues and working for a more just future to ensure all Ugandans enjoy their human rights. The arrest of Opiyo comes a few days following his meeting with the ambassador together with the leaders of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) and other human rights activists on transparency, accountability and ending the culture of impunity so that all Ugandans can thrive.
Mr Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the National Unity Platform presidential candidate, says Opiyo was arrested alongside other lawyers investigating the November 18th and 19th 2020 killings, in which over 50 people were shot dead during protests triggered by his arrest.

He says Opiyo was picked together with other lawyers namely Herbert Dakasi, Anthony Odur and Esomu Obure and NUP's Human Rights Officer, Hamid Tenywa. 

"We demand for their immediate release. Defending human rights is not a crime! We know this arrest is intended to frustrate the ongoing investigations into rights violations," said Kyagulanyi.

Dr Kizza Besigye, the former Forum for Democratic Change president also weighed in, saying that the arrest of Opiyo is not surprising since his home was broken into in September and communication devices picked.

"NGOs in the Human Rights and Governance area have been targeted for office break-ins and their bank accounts were frozen. This escalates during election periods," Besigye said. 

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