Police defy court order to release Kakwenza

Mr Kakwenza Rukirabashaija speaks to the media before his arrest. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

Mr Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was arrested on December 28 and he has since been in detention without access to his lawyers or family.

Uganda Police Force has defied an order to release novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija unconditionally despite lawyers serving them with documents on Tuesday. 
Mr Rukirabashaija was arrested last year on December 28 and he has since been in detention without access to his lawyers or family.
On January 4, Makindye Chief Magistrate Court, Grade One Magistrate Irene Nambatya ruled: “It is hereby ordered that the applicant be unconditionally released from police custody. Every police officer should comply with the above order”.

Mr Eron Kiiza, the lawyer of Mr Rukirabashaija, said they served the police officer with a court order, but up to date they have defied them. 
“They got the orders and are yet to respond,” Mr Kiiza said.
On Monday,  the spokesperson of the Criminal Investigations Directorate, Mr Charles Twiine, said they were to present Mr Rukirabashaija in court on Tuesday on charges of offensive communication under the Computer Misuse Act against President Museveni and his son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who is also the Commander of Land Forces. 

Mr Twiine yesterday could not readily give a comment on why they were still detaining Mr Rukirabashaija.
Of late, the police have been accused of ignoring court orders, but last November the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka warned them to desist from such impunity.
On November 4, 2021, Mr Kiwanuka wrote to Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola, ordering police to always comply with all the court directives to avoid litigation and awards. 

“The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to advise you to direct your officers to comply with the said directives of the court and perform their duties and obligations as is required under the law as failure to do so many lead to contempt of court proceedings filed against the Inspector General of Police personally,” Mr Kiwanuka wrote then.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga then said they would comply with the court orders as directed by the Attorney General.
International and local human rights activists have condemned the continued detention of Mr Rukirabashaija.
United States of America Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Senator Jim Risch said the incommunicado detention of Mr Rukirabashaija is one of the troubling examples of continued stifling of dissent and punishment of critics.
“#Uganda authorities continue to stifle dissent & punish critics. The house arrest of opposition leader @HEBobiwine last month & incommunicado detention of @KakwenzaRukira - despite a court order to produce him in court - are new & troubling examples,” Senator Risch said. 

Human rights
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) yesterday said: “Whereas Article 53(4)(a) of the Constitution bars us from investigating matters before court, we are following the matter of @KakwenzaRukira closely with the relevant authorities. We’ve received assurances that he will be produced in court soon.”
The police yesterday blocked the offices of the UHRC and arrested a human rights activist and her child at the gate as she was heading to petition them for the illegal detention of Mr Rukirabashaija. 
The woman was later released after the intervention of the UHRC. 
“UHRC has a constitutional mandate two receive petitions on human rights at any of our country-wide offices and we remain open to do so,” UHRC said in a tweet yesterday. 


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