The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda [CCEDU] has appealed to government to arraign all Ugandans in detention due to the January 14 general elections.
In a statement issued by the organization and read by the National Coordinator Ms Charity Okalebo Ahimbisibwe at their offices in Muyenga, CCEDU emphasised that even though the President had promised that the people who have gone missing since the start of the electioneering period would be accounted for this has not yet been realised fully. Not even the statement by Security Minister Gen.Jeje Odongo on the floor of Parliament recently sufficed.
They are concerned about the media reports that the citizenry are living in constant fear for their lives and their loved ones. “These people according to press reports were disappearing because of their political affiliations” which is a direct infringement to their rights as guaranteed in Article 29 of the constitution that provides for the right to assemble and associate with a political thinking of one’s choice.
“The President’s statement was very encouraging, but questions around abducted Ugandans still abound. The Parliament has debated the issue twice and tasked the Police and security forces to account for all the Ugandans on the NUP list, but this accountability has not come through yet,” reads the statement in part.
Charity Ahimbisibwe also noted that security Minister Jeje Odongo had presented a list of 177 abductees to parliament which falls short of the 413 as claimed by the National Unity Platform party [ NUP]
Whereas CCEDU agrees that these, who according to Minister Odongo were arrested for various crimes ranging to being in possession of military stores and planning an insurrection after the 2021 general elections which is unconstitutional, they demand that these should be presented before courts of law to enjoy their right to a fair hearing.
“Article 42 of the Constitution provides that every person has a right to a fair, speedy and public hearing before an independent and impartial court or tribunal. This is in regard to both civil cases and criminal charges. Therefore, all the people who were arrested by security forces and subsequently reported as missing by their relatives and families have to be subjected to, two cardinal principles in the rule of law as provided by the Constitution.” CCEDU noted.
“The non-derogable right of the writ of habeas corpus (the right to be produced in court within the mandatory 48 hours) and the right to a fair hearing, anything short of this means the security forces are acting outside constitutionally provided means of resolving conflict. The purpose for a writ of habeas corpus is to review the legality of the applicant’s arrest, imprisonment and detention and challenge the authority of the prison or jail warden to continue holding the applicant. The application is used when a person is held without charges or is denied due process,” further reads the statement.
They further say that since majority of the kidnapped persons are the youths who have for long been sceptical of participating in electoral processes and now that they came out in big numbers and exercised their rights to participate as guaranteed in Article 38 of the Uganda Constitution, such acts by security could be interpreted as victimizing them for the same.
As such, such a conduct according to CCEDU is a step in the backward direction of the electoral democracy that they have defended and promoted over the years.
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