AND CALLS FOR ACTION
Today, after a lengthy Court battle to attain access to detained clients, the Ugandan Prisons authorities gave HRAPF’s legal advocates unfettered access to the COSF-19 at Kitalya Mini Maxi Prison. The group were arrested after Ugandan police opportunistically used the COVID-19 emergency to target gays in its ongoing persecutory hunt of LGBTI people.
Patricia Kimera, Juliet Kanyange and Adrian Jjuuko, of HRAPF were able to access unrestricted time with the nineteen detainees.
They were all excited to finally see lawyers pay them a visit and commended all efforts so far made for them to access justice. They narrated their ordeal and experiences since being sent on remand and the violations that they have suffered while in detention. They all decried the discrimination that they have experienced from both the Prison warders as well as inmates, as everyone in Kitalya knows about their sexual orientation. They are subjected to taunts, insults, discrimination in access to bathroom facilities etc.
Two of them reported having been subjected to anal examinations – one at the Police Post in Nkokonjeru soon after being arrested and another at the prison. The prison examination was done by a non-medical inmate under the authority of one of the prison warders. This was not intended for any investigations and would thus amount to cruel and degrading treatment.
All of them looked frail as they are suffering from various ailments, including diarrhea, typhoid and malaria, most of which were acquired from prison. One of them who is HIV positive cannot access treatment, not because it is not available but because the prison authorities loudly call out any persons who are HIV positive to go and get medicines. Many who are sick do not have medicine and asked us to get them access to an assortment of medicines. The lack of essential medicines was also confirmed by the Officer in Charge of the Prison.
They also expressed worries of where they would go after release as majority of them were already rejected by their relatives and outed by the media during their arrest. They will therefore require medical examination, comprehensive treatment, accommodation, food and psychosocial support upon release. HRAPF will be able to provide accommodation, cover immediate needs and sustenance for the first week after release and other partners are expected to take over for long term support as per the MOU between the different entities working on LGBT security in Uganda.
We were able to also obtain all relevant information relevant for their bail application due Monday 18th May 2020 at Nsangi Court and we have high hopes that they will be released then.
Preparations for the Monday session are ongoing and many partners have pledged to avail cars as we need to move 38 sureties and possible the 19 if released. With a restriction on 3 persons per car including the driver, there is need for at least 20 cars making one trip to the court! We shall also need 9 cars to and from Kitalya in case they are released.
Physical presence of partners, media and community members will send a loud message of solidarity with the19. We call upon all those who can, to join us in court on Monday, 18th of May 2020 at 9.00am at Nsangi Court in solidarity and logistical support. It would be good for those who come to come with letters of introduction from their Local Council authorities proving their residence as well as national IDs as there may be urgent need for ‘substantial sureties.’
We are also in touch with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and we know that our file is on her table and a decision on withdrawal of charges may be made any time.This would entirely dispose of the case.
On behalf of African Human Rights Coalition, we strongly condemn these serious human rights abuses on the part of the Ugandan government. Uganda is notorious for its persecution of LGBTI people. Having already supported the shelter in question, we are looking into ways to be supportive of the ongoing defense for these innocent young men, who we believe were hunted and targeted because of the perception as to their sexuality. (Melanie Nathan AHRC)
UPDATED: 2.21 PM:
Kampala, Uganda & Washington, DC — On May 14, 2020 Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) filed a petition before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention seeking a ruling that the Ugandan government unlawfully targeted and continues to unlawfully detain 19 LGBTI people under the guise of its COVID-19 response.
On March 29, 2020, the mayor of Nsangi Town Council, Hajji Abdul Kiyimba and officers of the Uganda Police Force targeted a known LGBTIQ shelter, Children of the Sun Foundation (COSF), in Kyengera Town Council, arbitrarily arresting twenty-three (23) people based on their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, nineteen (19) of whom remain arbitrarily detained in state custody.
With anti-LGBTI discrimination and violence on the rise in Uganda, the government has denied rumors that it plans to reintroduce infamous “Kill the Gays” legislation — a version of which was struck down by Ugandan courts in 2014. Instead, state security forces have increased harassment of LGBTI Ugandans and advocates, using COVID-19 as cover for carrying out the latest in a string of homophobic and transphobic raids and unlawful arrests.
The 19 individuals were denied access to their lawyers for weeks before a High Court eventually ordered reasonable access be granted on May 13 in advance of a bail hearing currently scheduled for May 18. United Nations experts have previously expressed concern that Uganda is using COVID-19 emergency powers to target LGBTI people. The petition filed this week initiates a formal complaint procedure against the government of Uganda and details multiple violations of Uganda’s binding international human rights obligations.
Our earlier reporting on these arrests is HERE:
The Ugandan Government has raided a safe shelter for homeless victims of human rights abuses. While sheltered in place and in protection form the Corona Virus outbreak, authorities sought fit to victimize the residents, with homophobic slurs and physical beatings to solicit confessions as to their sexuality. At this time we believe approximately 23 people … More Ugandan Homeless Shelter Raided by Authorities in Homophobic Attack
Further to our reporting on the case against the COSF-19 where on Friday 24th April 2020, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) filed a case before the Civil Division of the High Court of Uganda challenging the denial of the 19 LGBT persons currently on remand at Kitalya Mini Maxi Prison access to their … More Certificate of Urgency issued in Ugandan Anti-Gay COVID-19 Case
Today, Friday 24th April 2020, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) filed a case before the Civil Division of the High Court of Uganda challenging the denial of the 19 LGBT persons currently on remand at Kitalya Mini Maxi Prison access to their lawyers by refusing to grant permission to the lawyers to access … More Lawyers Denied Access to LGBTI Group in Ugandan Prison Pending Trial