Outrage in Ugandan LGBT Community as Activist Faces Possible Life in Prison

Outrage as basic rights are infringed 

By Melanie Nathan, November 15, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 2.42.13 PMSamuel K. Ganafa,  Executive Director of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives and Board Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was arrested on Tuesday November 12, 2013.  He had reported to Kasangati Police Station on the outskirts of Kampala pursuant to a phone call from the District Police Commander Chemonges Seiko asking him to report to the station.

Upon reporting to the station he was immediately handcuffed by a police officer. Without show a warrant of arrest he was forced onto a police pickup truck and taken twice to his residence, which was searched. The search was conducted without a search warrant. During the unwarranted search three house-guests of Mr. Ganafa, namely Joseph Kayizi, Kasali Brian and Michael Katongole were also arrested and taken to the police for questioning as well. His nephew Brian Kasirye who had rushed to the police station to check on him was also detained.

Ganafa appeared in court today at Kasanganti Magistrates court. The magistrate who heard his case said he did not have jurisdiction to try a case of this nature and so the case was adjourned to be heard by the Chief magistrates  in Nabweru for Monday November , 18, 2013. Ganafa  was therefore remanded to Kasangati prison until then. Despite his possible unlawful arrest and the unlawful searched related to his arrest, he is being held without bail.

The other three people who were arrested in conjunction with this case, who were picked up from Ganafa’s residence have not beenbrought to court, and police refused to release them despite lawyers presenting an application for unconditional release of the suspects. This is despite the fact that they have been held in custody for about 4 days.

The Magistrate at Kasangati declined to preside over their release although in this case, he had jurisdiction to hear the case. It seems he was acting on police orders.

There are concerns as the three suspects have reported that they are being forced to make statements to implicate Ganafa.

There are also concerns that they maybe forced to take HIV/AIDS tests.

Sam Ganafa and the other three suspects are facing sodomy charges under section 145 of the penal code act. If found of guilty, the suspects will be liable to life imprisonment.

The fourth suspect, who is Sam’s Nephew pleaded guilty to assault. His case is different from the rest of the suspects.

UPDATED NOV 18, 2013.

Sam GanafaScreen Shot 2013-11-18 at 4.15.51 PM waited until 6PM today, after a week in jail, and his case was not heard. The bail hearing was postponed, yet again, until next Monday, because the presiding Magistrate sits  on the  bench only on Mondays.  In the meantime Ganafa has been sent to a high security prison, Luzira maximum prison, until the bail application will be heard on 25th November 2013.

He is being treated as if he has committed a capital offense, such as murder. However the charges appear to be based on the Penal Code’s “acts against the order of nature,” where sodomy will have to be proved in this court of law.

Ugandan LGBTI human rights defenders are reporting their disappointment in the legal system’s treatment of Mr. Ganafa: “The magistrate felt that this case was a capital offense. We had hoped for his release today but once again the court system has failed us,” said a spokesperson from a local human rights group.

The case is receiving publicity in Uganda in a manner that is humiliating, and is making a mockery of Ganafa, while influencing public opinion against him. One wonders to what extent Ganafa is being used as a political pawn, intended by anti-gay forces and proponents of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, who may have trumped up charges, so as to create a climate conducive to promote passage of the Bill, which may again appear on the Parliamentary Order Papers this week.


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