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EA urged to pile pressure on Museveni as Kenyans join #FreeBobiWine protests

Reggae star turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi – commonly known as “Bobi Wine” -talks to his supporters in a suburb of Kampala, on June 30, 2017/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 22 – Human rights groups in Kenya have urged East African governments to pile pressure on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to stop the ongoing crackdown on the Opposition.

They have raised alarm over the continued incarceration of five Ugandan Members of Parliament among them Robert Kyagulanyi – popularly known as Bobi Wine – who is held in a military facility.

Led by the Law Society of Kenya and Kenya Human Rights Commission, the lobbyists have called for the immediate and unconditional release of MP Kyagulanyi, who they say has been denied the right to medication after he was tortured.

Others in custody include MPs Kassiano Wadri (an independent candidate who won the by-election in Arua), Gerald Karuhanga, Paul Mwiru and Francis Zaake.

Legislators Karuhanga, Mwiru and Zaake alongside 30 other individuals have since been charged with treason in a magistrate’s court in the Northern Uganda town of Gulu.

“The circumstances under which Hon Kyagulanyi was arrested and charged before a military court in Gulu on 16th August, leaves a lot to be desired. Security officers allege that they found firearms in his hotel room, allegations which have been refuted by the hotel management and those present on the day of the arrest,” Law Society of Kenya Vice-President Chiggai Harriet pointed out.

Kyagulanyi’s driver Yasin Kawumwa was shot dead by security forces.

They have also called for a probe on all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in detention to ensure those found culpable are brought to book and insist the findings must be made public.

“We are troubled that the Government of the Republic of Uganda is wilfully disregarding international laws such as the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, The United Nation Convention Against Torture, The African Charter on Humans and Peoples Rights, The Universal Convention Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These conventions guide every party state on human rights issues,” Kenya Human Rights Commission Executive Director George Kegoro said.

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The right groups, he said, were specifically concerned about what he termed as a “mockery” by President Museveni who recently vowed to “teach a lesson to the chronically indisciplined” politicians.

“We hereby call on the Government of the Republic of Uganda to launch a thorough, independent and impartial investigation, including appropriate forensic investigations, into how Yasin Kawuma was killed with a shot to his head,” Kegoro asserted.

“There must be accountability for this tragic death.”

Also, in their list of demands is a “guarantee that each of the persons accused of recognisable offences under Ugandan and international law will have their guilt or innocence determined by a fair and effective legal process.”

They also want the government to ensure journalists are not attacked by security agents.

To show solidarity with the five legislators and hundreds of Ugandans arbitrarily arrested, the human rights organizations will on Thursday hold a nationwide protest.


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