The Makindye Chief Magistrate's court has ordered the unconditional release of novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who has been in police custody for a week without trial.
The order to release Kakwenza was issued today Tuesday by the grade one magistrate, Irene Nambatya following an application by his lawyers; Eron Kiiza, Nalukoola Luyimbazi, and Samuel Wanda demanding his unconditional release.
His lawyers argue that Kakwenza has been in unknown detention without being produced in court within the mandatory 48 hours - which is a violation of his constitutional right to liberty and fair hearing.
But Kiiza says that they are not sure whether the government will comply with the release order or will opt to take him to court. Kiiza says having been tortured and looking in a bad state, the state could still be buying time not to present Kakwenza in public.
The novelist was arrested eight days ago from his home at Rave Apartments in Kisaasi, a Kampala suburb by armed security personnel.
His lawyers on December 30 filed an application for his unconditional release, arguing that Kakwenza has been detained at an unknown facility and that the Uganda Police Force that arrested him, refused to disclose his whereabouts yet his file is being managed at the police's cyber crimes unit in Kibuli.
The application was supported by an affidavit from one of the lawyers, Morgan Muhindo, who told the court that Kakwenza has since been held incommunicado but his lawyers, family, and friends denied access to him which is a violation of his constitutional right to liberty and fair hearing.
Yesterday Monday, CID spokesperson Charles Twiine said Kakwenza would be arraigned today at Buganda Road Magistrate's court on charges related to offensive communication when he allegedly insulted first son Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba on social media by calling him fat and a drunkard. But he has not yet been arraigned.
A security source who preferred anonymity said that Kakwenza will not be charged today because they are still gathering evidence to incriminate him on the charges they intend to levy against him.
The security agencies on Monday also went to Kakwenza's home in Iganga district and conducted a search looking for materials that they think would be fundamental in prosecuting him. According to his lawyers, the search was illegal since it was conducted without a search warrant as required by law.
In 2020, Kakwenza was arrested twice in a space of six months. He was first arrested on April 13 from his home in Iganga district allegedly by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and detained in Mbuya. He was later charged with doing an act likely to spread an infectious disease following a post on his Facebook page related to COVID-19.
He was later granted bail but again arrested in September of the same year and his lawyers said it was in relation to his book titled “The Banana Republic”, in which he had written about his experience under CMI custody earlier.
He had also previously written a book titled 'The Greedy Barbarian' in which he talked about a fictitious greedy and incompetent dictator Kayibanda who clings to power for 43 years.
In October 2021, Kakwenza was awarded as the winner of International Writer of Courage at the PEN Pinter Prize function, and this annual award is normally presented to a person who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.
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.