Medard Lubega Ssegona, one of the lawyers on National Unity Platform (NUP) legal team has expressed fears that the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and its sister security agencies will use the ruling of the High Court judge Esta Nambayo to torture more Ugandans.
On Tuesday, the High Court in Kampala led by Justice Nambayo dismissed an application in which Robert Kyagulanyi’s singing partner, Ali Bukeni also known as Nubian Li , the head of his personal bodyguards Eddy Ssebufu also known as Eddie Mutwe and 34 other NUP supporters sought to stop trial by the army court.
These were arrested on December 29th 2020 on their way to Kalangala District where the former presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi was scheduled to holding his campaigns.
The suspects were arraigned before Masaka magistrate’s court on January 4th 2021 on charges of inciting violence and doing an act likely to spread diseases. They were granted bail but were re-arrested by security shortly after and returned to prison.
On January 7th, 2021, they were transferred to Makindye military barracks where they appeared the next day in the court-martial for illegal possession of four bullets before being remanded to Kitalya prison. The group later ran to the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala challenging the trial that they said was unlawful since they had already been charged by the Chief Magistrates court in Masaka.
However, Justice Nambayo dismissed their petition and several human rights violation claims, including torture claims citing a lack of evidence.
She said that the applicants made claims of torture without presenting medical records.
“It is not enough for the applicants’ witnesses to only present sworn affidavits claiming that they were tortured and that the signs of torture were visible on the applicants. The alleged tortured persons should have presented medical evidence to corroborate their claims. It is not enough for the applicants’ witnesses to tell the court that they had visible wounds of torture. I find that the evidence presented by the applicants is not enough to sustain the claim of torture.”
Justice Nambayo added that the general court-martial followed all the necessary procedures and all the accused were charged within the laws of the court-martial.“In the result, therefore, I find that the charging of the Applicant at the General Court-martial at Makindye is with the law.”
Following, Justice Nambayo’s ruling, Ssegona said that the ruling has set a precedent that even other judges will one time depend on to make shameful rulings thus paving way for the army to terrorize civilians.
The Busiro East legislator added that if the such ruling remains to stand, Ugandans are bound to be tortured by the army under the support of the civilian courts of law.
“This shows that the army can break the law and torture people although torture was prohibited by the court. It has also set a precedent that one can arrest people in an ungazetted place. it has also shown that the army can violate the human rights of the people and detain them illegally,”
He further noted that they are going to appeal for two reasons; the first court to squash her ruling so that it does not tarnish the image of the judiciary, secondly also to see that their people get justice.
“We will win, I just appeal to the detainees to keep up their spirit we cannot leave them to suffer.”
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