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 By NANGAYI GUYSON

Kampala, Uganda - Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, a Ugandan satirical novelist who was selected International Writer of Courage by PEN last year, has been jailed and tortured for criticizing the President Yoweri Museveni and his son, according to his lawyer.

After a series of tweets against the country's President, Yoweri Museveni, including one calling him a crook and his son a potential successor "an ignorant pig-headed curmudgeon," gunmen arrived at the writer's home on December 28 and has since been in custody in unknown location.

On Monday, he was escorted by cops to the family's rural house for a search. His wife was astounded to see her husband weak, bruised, limping, and wearing bloodstained underwear.

She claimed she observed cuts on his feet, and he claimed there were more on his buttocks, as well as the fact that he had been denied food. "When I served him a drink of milk, he retched it," she wrote in her affidavit to the court.

The arrest and detention of Rukirabashaija has sparked widespread condemnation of President Museveni and his son, both abroad and locally.

Kiiza Eron, the author's lawyer, is urging that he be released, as Ugandan law only allows police to keep someone for 48 hours without charge. He has a court order for Rukirabashaija's release, but the authorities are refusing to comply.

"Police have admitted to keeping him, but they refuse to let us see him... he has been held incommunicado since the day of the search," Eron said.

PEN America demanded his immediate release.

"Despite the Ugandan authorities' persistent suppression of dissident viewpoints, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has bravely persevered to speak out," Karin Deutsch Karlekar, head of Free Expression at Risk programs, stated.

"These abuses of human rights show a vengeful application of the law, as well as the reality of many of the criticisms Rukirabashaija has made in his literature."

Eamon Gilmore, the EU's special envoy for human rights, is one of the diplomats who has also expressed his displeasure on twitter.

"Reports of author Kakwenza's alleged abuse and incommunicado confinement concern me. Despite a court order for his unconditional release, he remains in jail without trial. Eamon Gilmore said, "I urge Ugandan authorities to uphold the rule of law and due process."

The Ugandan Human Rights Commission (UHRC) released a statement on Friday a day after it said it was barred by the constitution from investigating cases before the court, such as that of the Kakwenza requesting that the government to "immediately" free novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, or present and charge him in court.

"The UHRC has been visiting several security and jail facilities across the country in the last few days to locate him.

Security agencies and relevant government officials have also been contacted by the Commission to guarantee that justice is served for Kakwenza.

While we continue our search for Kakwenza, we urge the government to either release him immediately or produce him and charge him in a courts of law," the statement read.

The novelist, on the other hand, has yet to be charged in a court of law. The Uganda Police Force has also ignored a court order to free the novelist granted by Makindye Chief Magistrate Court Grade One Magistrate Irene Nambatya on January 4, 2022.

Mr Charles Twiine, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigations Directorate, said on Monday that Kakwenza would be presented in court on Tuesday last week.

On Saturday, January 8, the East Africa Law Society (EALS), an umbrella regional bar organisation, released a statement "strongly denouncing" the infringement of Ugandan novelist and human rights campaigner Kakwenza Rukirabashaija's rights.

"The East Africa Law Society strongly condemns the violation of his rights as guaranteed by the Ugandan Constitution and several international instruments to which Uganda is a party, including the Treaty Establishing the East African Community, which requires member countries to ensure respect for human rights and rule of law (Articles 6 (d) and 7 (2))."

Most importantly, it should be underlined that EALS strongly opposes the continuous disobedience of the court order in this case.

"All judicial systems are built on the foundation of respect for court orders, which is the cornerstone of the rule of law. We implore the Ugandan government to obey the court's judgment and provide Mr. Rukirabashaija with constitutionally granted due process," Reads the statement.

The police have recently been accused of disobeying court orders, but Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka advised them not to do so in November. Mr Kiwanuka wrote to Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola on November 4, 2021, instructing police to always follow all court instructions to avoid litigation and rewards.

Mr Kiwanuka wrote at the time, "The purpose of this letter 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 by law, as failure to do so may result in contempt of court proceedings filed against the Inspector General of Police personally."

The police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, subsequently stated that they will follow the Attorney General's court instructions. Mr Kakwenza's ongoing detention has been criticized by international and local human rights advocates.

Arrests on many occasions

The author obtained a claim for "The Greedy Barbarian," a satire novel set in 2020 that depicts high-level corruption in a fictional society. He won the PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage in 2021, which is given yearly to a writer who has been persecuted for expressing their opinions.

Since the publication of "The Greedy Barbarian," Kakwenza has been detained several times. He claims he was tortured while being questioned about his work by military intelligence.

He was accused of breaking the Covid-19 social distance regulations, inciting violence, and encouraging sectarianism at the time. In his most recent book, "banana republic: Where Writing is Treasonous," he described his experience in detention as "inhumane and demeaning."

Museveni has ruled Uganda since assuming power in 1986, when he helped end years of dictatorship under Idi Amin and Milton Obote. He was once lauded as a reformer.

However, the former rebel leader has cracked down on criticism and amended the constitution to allow him to run for office multiple times.

Journalists have been attacked, lawyers have been imprisoned, election monitors have been prosecuted, and opposition leaders have been violently muzzled in Uganda because of Museveni's dictatorship.

The US imposed sanctions on Uganda's military intelligence head, Major General Abel Kandiho, last month, alleging his role in significant human rights violations such as beatings, sexual assault, and electrocution.

Two additional members of Uganda's military forces were sentenced to long prison terms just two days after the punishments were imposed for their roles in the violence against demonstrators in 2020, which resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people.

 

 

By NANGAYI GUYSON

Kampala, Uganda - Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, a Ugandan satirical novelist who was selected International Writer of Courage by PEN last year, has been jailed and tortured for criticizing the President Yoweri Museveni and his son, according to his lawyer.

After a series of tweets against the country's President, Yoweri Museveni, including one calling him a crook and his son a potential successor "an ignorant pig-headed curmudgeon," gunmen arrived at the writer's home on December 28 and has since been in custody in unknown location.

On Monday, he was escorted by cops to the family's rural house for a search. His wife was astounded to see her husband weak, bruised, limping, and wearing bloodstained underwear.

She claimed she observed cuts on his feet, and he claimed there were more on his buttocks, as well as the fact that he had been denied food. "When I served him a drink of milk, he retched it," she wrote in her affidavit to the court.

The arrest and detention of Rukirabashaija has sparked widespread condemnation of President Museveni and his son, both abroad and locally.

Kiiza Eron, the author's lawyer, is urging that he be released, as Ugandan law only allows police to keep someone for 48 hours without charge. He has a court order for Rukirabashaija's release, but the authorities are refusing to comply.

"Police have admitted to keeping him, but they refuse to let us see him... he has been held incommunicado since the day of the search," Eron said.

PEN America demanded his immediate release.

"Despite the Ugandan authorities' persistent suppression of dissident viewpoints, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has bravely persevered to speak out," Karin Deutsch Karlekar, head of Free Expression at Risk programs, stated.

"These abuses of human rights show a vengeful application of the law, as well as the reality of many of the criticisms Rukirabashaija has made in his literature."

Eamon Gilmore, the EU's special envoy for human rights, is one of the diplomats who has also expressed his displeasure on twitter.

"Reports of author Kakwenza's alleged abuse and incommunicado confinement concern me. Despite a court order for his unconditional release, he remains in jail without trial. Eamon Gilmore said, "I urge Ugandan authorities to uphold the rule of law and due process."

The Ugandan Human Rights Commission (UHRC) released a statement on Friday a day after it said it was barred by the constitution from investigating cases before the court, such as that of the Kakwenza requesting that the government to "immediately" free novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, or present and charge him in court.

"The UHRC has been visiting several security and jail facilities across the country in the last few days to locate him.

Security agencies and relevant government officials have also been contacted by the Commission to guarantee that justice is served for Kakwenza.

While we continue our search for Kakwenza, we urge the government to either release him immediately or produce him and charge him in a courts of law," the statement read.

The novelist, on the other hand, has yet to be charged in a court of law. The Uganda Police Force has also ignored a court order to free the novelist granted by Makindye Chief Magistrate Court Grade One Magistrate Irene Nambatya on January 4, 2022.

Mr Charles Twiine, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigations Directorate, said on Monday that Kakwenza would be presented in court on Tuesday last week.

On Saturday, January 8, the East Africa Law Society (EALS), an umbrella regional bar organisation, released a statement "strongly denouncing" the infringement of Ugandan novelist and human rights campaigner Kakwenza Rukirabashaija's rights.

"The East Africa Law Society strongly condemns the violation of his rights as guaranteed by the Ugandan Constitution and several international instruments to which Uganda is a party, including the Treaty Establishing the East African Community, which requires member countries to ensure respect for human rights and rule of law (Articles 6 (d) and 7 (2))."

Most importantly, it should be underlined that EALS strongly opposes the continuous disobedience of the court order in this case.

"All judicial systems are built on the foundation of respect for court orders, which is the cornerstone of the rule of law. We implore the Ugandan government to obey the court's judgment and provide Mr. Rukirabashaija with constitutionally granted due process," Reads the statement.

The police have recently been accused of disobeying court orders, but Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka advised them not to do so in November. Mr Kiwanuka wrote to Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola on November 4, 2021, instructing police to always follow all court instructions to avoid litigation and rewards.

Mr Kiwanuka wrote at the time, "The purpose of this letter 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 by law, as failure to do so may result in contempt of court proceedings filed against the Inspector General of Police personally."

The police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, subsequently stated that they will follow the Attorney General's court instructions. Mr Kakwenza's ongoing detention has been criticized by international and local human rights advocates.

Arrests on many occasions

The author obtained a claim for "The Greedy Barbarian," a satire novel set in 2020 that depicts high-level corruption in a fictional society. He won the PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage in 2021, which is given yearly to a writer who has been persecuted for expressing their opinions.

Since the publication of "The Greedy Barbarian," Kakwenza has been detained several times. He claims he was tortured while being questioned about his work by military intelligence.

He was accused of breaking the Covid-19 social distance regulations, inciting violence, and encouraging sectarianism at the time. In his most recent book, "banana republic: Where Writing is Treasonous," he described his experience in detention as "inhumane and demeaning."

Museveni has ruled Uganda since assuming power in 1986, when he helped end years of dictatorship under Idi Amin and Milton Obote. He was once lauded as a reformer.

However, the former rebel leader has cracked down on criticism and amended the constitution to allow him to run for office multiple times.

Journalists have been attacked, lawyers have been imprisoned, election monitors have been prosecuted, and opposition leaders have been violently muzzled in Uganda because of Museveni's dictatorship.

The US imposed sanctions on Uganda's military intelligence head, Major General Abel Kandiho, last month, alleging his role in significant human rights violations such as beatings, sexual assault, and electrocution.

Two additional members of Uganda's military forces were sentenced to long prison terms just two days after the punishments were imposed for their roles in the violence against demonstrators in 2020, which resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people.

 

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