The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Uganda.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention of Mr. Mbugua Mureithi, Kenyan human rights lawyer who represents families of Kenyan suspects transferred to Uganda on allegations of involvement in the 11 July terrorist bombings in Kampala and Coordinator of the Litigation Fund Against Torture (LIFAT) and Mr. Al-Amin Kimathi, the Executive Coordinator of the Kenyan Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) and about the subsequent release of Mr. Mbugua Mureithi.
According to the information received, on September 15, 2010, Messrs Mureithi and Kimathi were arrested upon their arrival at the Entebbe international airport by Ugandan Government agents. Mr. Murethi and Mr Kimanthi were taken to the headquarters of the Ugandan Police’s Rapid Response Unit in Kireka, a suburb of Kampala, and detained there. They were questioned by individuals in civilian clothing about alleged contacts with Al-Shabaab operatives, an islamist group which claimed responsibility in the terrorist bombings perpetrated in Kampala on July 11, 2010.
On September 18, Mr. Mureithi was released and escorted to Entebbe to take a plane to Kenya in the morning. During his detention, Mr. Mureithi did not have access to a lawyer and was not allowed to make any phone calls. Mr. Al-Amin Kimathi, whose laptop has been confiscated, remains in detention with no access to a lawyer and no authorisation to make any phone call.
On September 20, Mr. Al-Amin Kimathi was brought before the Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kampala and charged with terrorism, attempted murder and 89 counts of murder in relation to the July 11 bombings. The Magistrate’s court does not have jurisdiction to try him on those charges - murder and terrorism are capital offences - but the charges were read out to him and he was remanded to Luzira maximum security prison. The next hearing will take place on October 8.
Messrs Mureithi and Kimathi were arrested as they were travelling to Kampala to attend a court hearing in connection with the Kampala bombings of June 11. The trial was scheduled on September 16. and Mr. Mureithi was to represent Kenyan civilians transferred from their country to Uganda for having allegedly participated in the bombings. Mr. Kimathi and the MHRF are known for denouncing the human rights violations perpetrated in the name of the fight against terrorism in the East and Horn of Africa.
The Observatory denounces the arbitrary arrests of Messrs Mureithi and Kimathi as well as the continued arbitrary detention of Mr. Kimathi, which seem to aim at sanctioning their human rights activities, and fears for their physical and psychological integrity.
Please write to the authorities of Uganda , urging them to:
i. Proceed to the immediate release of Mr. Al-Amin Kimathi and guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity as well as of all human rights defenders in Uganda ;
ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against Messrs. Mbuaga Mureithi and Al-Amin Kimathi as well as against all human rights defenders in Uganda so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;
iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:
Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
Article 9.3 which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, inter alia […] to attend public hearings, proceedings and trials so as to form an opinion on their compliance with national law and applicable international obligations and commitments; and to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.
iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Uganda.
· President Kaguta Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, Office of the President of Uganda, State House Nakasero, P.O. Box 24594, Kampala, Uganda. Fax: +256 (0) 414 436 102 / + 256 41 4235459 / +256 41 4344012. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
· Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Dr. Edward Kiddhu Makubuya, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Parliament Avenue, P.O.Box 7183, Kampala, Uganda. Fax: + 256 41 4250829. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Richard Buteera, Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice, Constitutional Affairs & the Attorney General, Tel: +256-414-332-502/332-504, Fax: +256-414-258-565/341-316, Email: email@example.com
· Minister of Internal Affairs, Ruhakana Rugunda, Jinja Rd, PO Box 7191, Kampala, Uganda. Fax: + 256 414343088
· Mr. Kale Kaihura, Inspector General of Police, Telephone: +256 (0) 712 755 999
· H.E. Mr. Arsene M. Balihuta, Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations in Geneva, 6 bis rue Antoine Carteret, 1202 Genève, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 340 70 30. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Embassy of Uganda to the EU in Brussels, 317 avenue de Tervueren, 1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgium. Fax : + 32 2.763.04.38. Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Uganda in your respective countries.