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High court orders IGP, SFC commander to produce novelist Kakwenza

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The High Court in Kampala has ordered the Commander of Special Forces Brigadier General Peter Candia, the Director of Criminal Investigations Directorate Grace Akullo, the Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola, and the Attorney General to produce novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.

The order was issued on Monday by Justice Musa Ssekaana. Ssekaana wants Kakwenza produced in court on Wednesday and show cause why he has been detained for two weeks without being charged. The order follows a successful application by Kakwenza’s wife Eva Basima through her lawyers led by Eron Kiiza who told the court that their client has been in unknown detention and held incommunicado which is a violation of his rights.

High Court has also heard that the Makindye Grade One Magistrates Court had ordered the Attorney General to unconditionally release Kakwenza but the government didn’t comply and therefore, it was in the interest of justice that an order for his production whether dead or alive be issued.

The government was represented by State Attorneys Christine Kaahwa and Richard Adrole who told the court that they previously had to verify the Makindye order since it was issued in their absence. But they added that they later found that the order was authentic and in respect to today’s proceedings before Ssekaana, they needed more time to respond to the matter on grounds that they have written to those who were sued and are yet to get their respective responses.

Kakwenza’s lawyer Eron Kiiza says that he is hopeful that since this is an order from the High Court, the security agencies are going to comply with it.

Kakwenza’s wife Basima petitioned Court last week demanding the restoration of her husband’s right to liberty saying that he had been in unknown detention without being arraigned in court within 48 hours as mandated by law.

The writer has been in custody on offensive communication charges since December 28 2021, when he was arrested by armed security personnel from his Kampala City home located in Kisaasi suburb.

He was later last week taken to his upcountry home in Iganga district for a search by police detectives and returned to unknown custody according to his lawyers.

On Tuesday, Makindye Grade One Magistrate Irene Nambatya issued an order for his release, but the government failed to comply with it.

A day later, Kakwenza’s wife Basima petitioned the High Court demanding an order that he should be produced in court whether dead or alive.

Efforts by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Uganda Law Society, East African Law Society, European Union, and Individuals among others to demand Kakwenza’s constitutional freedoms have been futile.

The sources in security agencies say that Kakwenza is still in detention as they gather more evidence to incriminate him on charges related to offensive communication.

In October 2021, Kakwenza was awarded as the winner of International Writer of Courage at the PEN Pinter Prize function. This annual award is normally presented to a person who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.

Kakwenza has so far written books like “the Greedy Barbarian” which talks about a dictator who stays in power for 43 years and another titled “the Banana Republic” which narrates about his life in the custody of Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence where he was taken twice in 2020 and reportedly tortured.

Kakwenza has since sued the government seeking compensation for infringement of his rights after he was illegally detained in 2020 where he was reportedly tortured and kept incommunicado. But his case is yet to be determined by the High court.

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