Uganda: Assault against Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Simon Amanyire, staff members of the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC)

13/02/2015
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC) about the assault of two of its staff members, its Executive Director, Mr. Gerald Kankya, and its monitoring and documentation Officer, Mr. Simon Amanyire. TLC has been running a petition campaign to the President Mr. Yoweri Museveni against Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Nursery, Primary and Vocational School, a private commercial project developed on land grabbed from illegal expropriations.

UGA 001 / 0215 / OBS 010
Assault / Theft of documents
Limitations of right to access to justice
Uganda
February 13, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Uganda.

Description of the situation :

The Observatory has been informed by the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC) about the assault of two of its staff members, its Executive Director, Mr. Gerald Kankya, and its monitoring and documentation Officer, Mr. Simon Amanyire. TLC has been running a petition campaign to the President Mr. Yoweri Museveni against Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Nursery, Primary and Vocational School, a private commercial project developed on land grabbed from illegal expropriations.
According to the information received, on January 23, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. in Fort Portal town, Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Simon Amanyire were attacked by approximatively 30 men wearing Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Nursery, Primary and Vocational Schools traffic reflectors jackets, armed with clubs and allegedly commanded by the District Police commander Mr. Geoffrey Kahebwa and another police officer. As the two defenders were on their way to their offices, the group of men started moving towards them allegedly on instructions of the District Police Commander.
After they were violently wrestled to the ground, the attackers attempted to steal important office files in their possession, including a document compiling cases on land grabbed by the Queen Mother Best Kemigisa project as part of the petition addressed to the President of Uganda. The attackers were allegedly each promised 20,000 Uganda shillings (approximately EUR 6) and were offered an extra 50,000 Ugandan shillings (approximately EUR 15) if they obtained the documents.
According to the medical examination carried out after the assault at Fort Portal Regional referral hospital, which qualified the attack as “grievous harm”, Mr. Kankya suffers from bruises on the left knee, bruises on the left hand, injuries in the mouth, a broken incisor tooth and sprained right hand thumb.
On January 24, 2015, Mr. Kankya was examined by a doctor at the request of the local police in order to be able to file a complaint. However, despite of this several police officers refused to record a complete statement, arguing that they were under strict orders not to record any statement from a member of TLC on charges related to assault. They also refused to accept the medical report obtained by Mr. Kankya, and informed him that three of the alleged perpetrators had filed a complaint against him for assault.
TLC broadcasts weekly programs on human rights education, performs capacity building to enhance the ability of human rights defenders to perform their activities in the region, provides civic education, monitors and documents human rights violations, and challenges unlawful government actions in court.
Since 2006, it has been working to combat unlawful evictions from public community land. Lately, TLC in partnership with local leaders and 25 victims of illegal evictions petitioned the President of Uganda against the Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Nursery, Primary and Vocational School project. TLC reportedly sent out over 1000 messages to members of parliament, Ministers and citizens informing them of the alleged land grabbing, and calling on them to appeal to the President not to go forward with the launching of the project.
The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the above-mentioned events, and fears that Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Amanyire were attacked as a result of their human rights activities. The Observatory calls for an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the assault of Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Amanyire, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law.

Action requested :

Please write to the authorities in Uganda, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Amanyire as well as all human rights defenders in Uganda, including those addressing land-related concerns;
ii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the beating of Messrs. Gerald Kankya and Amanyire, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;
iii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the limitation of Mr. Gerald Kankya’s right to access to justice following the refusal by the Fort Port local police to record his statement in order to identify those responsible for the order, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;
iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 5, which underscores the right of every individual to form, join, and participate in non-governmental organizations; and
- 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 his or her rights”;
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Uganda.

Addresses :

- 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: museveni@starcom.co.ug / aak@statehouse.go.ug
- Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Kahinda Otafiire, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Parliament Avenue, P.O.Box 7183, Kampala, Uganda. Fax: + 256 41 4250829. E-Mail: mojca@africaonline.co.ug
- Mr. Mike Chibita, 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: admin@dpp.go.ug
- Minister of Internal Affairs, Hilary Onek, Jinja Rd, PO Box 7191, Kampala, Uganda. Fax: + 256 414343088
- Dr. Steven Kasiima, Inspector General of Police, Telephone: +256 (0) 712 755 999
- H.E. Mr. Christopher Onyanga Aparr, 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: mission.uganda@ties.itu.int.
- Embassy of Uganda to the EU in Brussels, 317 avenue de Tervueren, 1150 Woluwe- Saint-Pierre, Belgium. Fax : + 32 2.763.04.38. Email: ugembrus@brutele.be
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Uganda in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Uganda.

***

Paris-Geneva, February 13, 2015
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

Read more
appelobs