Arusha, Tanzania | THE INDEPENDENT | Lawyer Male Mabirizi has petitioned the East African Court of Justice seeking to declare the trial of satirical Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija on offensive communication charges a nullity.
Kakwenza was on January 11 arraigned without this lawyers before Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate Dr. Douglas Singiza.
He was then charged for having willfully and repeatedly, used his Twitter handle @KakwenzaRukira to disturb the peace of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni together with his son Lt General Muhoozi Kainerugaba with no purpose of legitimate communication on December 26th and 28th 2021.
Kakwenza was then remanded to Kitalya prison and issued an order directing the Uganda Prisons Services to give him treatment on grounds that he was very sick.
However, in his petition before the East African Court of Justice Mabirizi wants the trial of Kakwenza declared illegal on grounds that he was charged with offenses of disturbing the peace of President Museveni and his son Kainerugaba when the duo had not made any complaint to police to show that their peace had been disturbed.
According to Mabirizi, in the absence of complaints recorded to Police from the complainants, it is illegal for the police to arrest one and take him to court based on their assumptions.
Mabirizi further argues that the decision by the Chief Magistrate to charge and remand to prison a very sick Kakwenza instead of releasing him is unlawful.
He bases his argument on the Human Rights Enforcement Act section 11 which provides that whenever in any criminal proceedings it appears to a Judicial Officer Presiding over a case that the accused person’s non-derogable rights and freedoms have been infringed upon, the presiding judicial officer shall declare the trial a nullity and acquit the accused. This Mabirizi contends that it was illegal for Dr. Singiza to go ahead and charge Kakwenza and subsequently remand him after being informed that he is very sick.
He now wants the court to declare that the actions of the Magistrate and security are unlawful and an infringement on the fundamental and operational principles of democracy, rule of law, accountability transparency, and the maintenance of universally accepted standards of human rights enshrined under the treaty for the East African Community where Uganda is a signatory.
Mabirizi also wants Kakwenza to be acquitted of the charges against him on that basis and be compensated for the violations of his rights and inconveniences caused to him.
The Attorney General who is the only respondent in this matter has already been summoned to file the government defense within 45 days before the case can be fixed for hearing in the East African Court of Justice in Tanzania.
On January 13, Kakwenza’s lawyer Eron Kiiza petitioned the Commissioner-General Uganda Prisons requesting him to cause his medical examination and furnish to them and court with a medical report. The Uganda Prisons is yet to respond to Kiiza’s letter.
Kakwenza was produced in court for plea taking after two court orders with one from Makindye Magistrates Court directing the government to release him unconditionally and another directing government to bring him to court and explain why he had been in detention without trial for long.
Kakwenza who has been in and out of state custody three times has since sued the government seeking compensation for torture. But his matter is yet to be fixed for hearing.
On January 11, 2022, Kakwenza was appointed as an Honorary Member of Pen Germany, an International organization of writers expressing their freedom of expression and literature.