Author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has been tortured, held incommunicado and has yet to be formally charged since he was arrested 14 days ago, his lawyer, Eron Kiiza, said following criticism of the Award-winning Ugandan writer had addressed Museveni and his son.
Kiiza tells RFI that Rukirabashaija’s wife saw him for three hours, when he was brought to their home on January 3 as security forces searched their home.
He was limping, unable to sit, urinating blood and told his wife that his butt was badly injured, Kiiza says.
“I haven’t seen him,” said the lawyer. “He is being held in an unclassified establishment, in military detention,” he added.
At the end of December, Rukirabashaija posted several tweets from his account, criticizing Museveni and his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who is the commander of the ground forces. In one, the writer asked how someone with military training could be so obese.
He posted on Twitter on December 28, claiming that security forces were breaking into his home; him and has been detained since, but no charges have been brought against him. In Uganda, detainees must be charged within 48 hours or are released.
Makindye Magistrates’ Court ordered Rukirabashaija’s unconditional release on January 4, but he remains in detention.
The Uganda Law Society (ULS) on Saturday reiterated its call for the writer’s immediate release, highlighting a number of points in the constitution, as well as the fact that his detention undermines the judicial process.
“Failure to comply with court orders not only undermines the powers of the judiciary to administer justice, but also creates a risk that the public loses confidence in seeking remedies in the courts, which could lead to anarchy. “, according to a statement from the ULS signed by its president, Mur de Pheona Nabasa.
Denunciation of torture, arbitrary detention
Ugandan activists, writers and international diplomats have also called for his release.
EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore called on Ugandan authorities to respect the rule of law and due process.
UGANDA: I am alarmed by reports of allegations of torture and incommunicado detention of the author@KakwenzaRukira. He remains in detention without trial, despite a court ruling on his unconditional release. I urge the Ugandan authorities to respect the rule of law and due process. pic.twitter.com/V6pLG8ZSsq – Eamon Gilmore (@EamonGilmore) January 5, 2022
“Rukirabashaija’s detention and apparent torture are flagrant acts of state violence and overt attempts to muzzle those expressing criticism of President Yoweri Museveni,” said a statement by Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of freedom of speech at New York-based PEN America, which promotes human rights and literature.
Academic, poet and protester Stella Nyanzi wrote a poem calling for the release of Rukirabashaija. In a stanza, part of her racy poem, she notices,
“Tears of pain at the silence of a daring writer
Illegally detain him a third time
Torture him for his mischievous writing
Deny lawyers access to his broken person.
What’s the next tweep going to be? “
Inmate, once again
This is not the first time that Rukirabashaija has been jailed – he was questioned in April 2020 about his self-published novel, “The Greedy Barbarian,” which deals with high-level corruption in a fictional African dictatorship. Charged with “an act likely to spread the disease” of Covid-19, the proceedings were dropped.
He was arrested again in September 2020, allegedly “inciting violence and promoting sectarianism”. He was released on police bail.
His book received the 2021 International Writer of Courage Award from PEN International for his book.
“Freedom of expression should never be hampered by dictatorship because it is recognized in national and foreign laws and this government cannot claim the rule of law without submitting to international law to which we are signatories,” said Rukirabashaija after winning the award. .
His lawyer hopes that Rukirabashaija will be released on Monday afternoon, when he presents his habeas corpus order, calling for his client, who has been illegally detained, to be brought to the High Court.