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Respect the law, release Kakwenza

One indicator of democratic decay is the lack of respect for rule of law. That is what the decay of democracy looks and smells like.

When rule of law is disregarded because it is inconvenient. On December 28, 2021, gun-wielding men stormed Kakwenza Rukirabashaijja’s home, cut down his door and captured him. Police later said its officers arrested Kakwenza on allegations of offensive communication.

This is an offence under The Computer Misuse Act. However, contrary to several constitution provisions and other laws, Kakwenza has been detained unlawfully for over 360 hours in an ungazetted detention facility. His lawyer has reported that Kakwenza was physically and emotionally tortured.

Torture and inhuman treatment of persons are prohibited and are punishable by law. The supreme law demands that a person detained shall only be kept in a place authorized by law and also be informed of the reasons for his or her detention.

It is the right of the detainee to be produced in a court of law not later than 48 hours from the time of his or her arrest. This was not done either!

As a consequence, his lawyers sought a court order, which was issued to all security organs demanding for his unconditional release. This court order was also disobeyed.

Disrespect of court orders not only undermines the powers of the judiciary to administer justice but also creates the risk of the public losing faith in seeking legal remedies from the courts.

Why do we have courts if their orders cannot be enforced? Strangely, the police allegedly arrested Kakwenza for offending the Computer Misuse Act but they too are not willing to comply with court orders.

When security organs or government agencies calculate how they should behave and what they can get away with, then the country is in serious trouble of sliding into lawlessness.

When police facilitate such actions rather than insisting upon the application of the law, and when power is seen to give immunity from the application of the rules and impunity from the legal consequences, then the rot in the democratic system has begun and will spread unless action is taken to stop it.

The police and other security agents seem to be under the impression that they have unfettered discretion to act as they please, including disobeying court orders, torturing their captives and detaining persons in unlawful detention facilities.

The Inspector General of Police should be embarrassed that his men and women have decided to defy the Constitution.

The IGP owes an explanation to Kakwenza’s family and the entire country as to why his officers chose to disobey the very laws they are pretending to be enforcing. Police needs to do one honorable thing; release Kakwenza, as per the court orders and if you have preferred charges against him, take him to court.

Do not arrogate yourselves the duties of a prosecutor and judge. Disciplinary and legal action should be taken against officers who are defying court orders.


+3 #1 Lakwena 2022-01-12 11:43
But the Observer Editors, you might be flogging the proverbial dead horse/donkeyI

I bet my Chapati and Chai Mukalu: a regime that came to power through the "Rule of Lawlessness" have no respect for the "Rule of Law" and that is how it will continue to stranglehold onto power (Ugandans).

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0 #2 Jama 2022-01-15 15:21
Kwas kidnapped and is imprisoned by those above the law.

When we mention those above the law, every Ugandan knows who they are.

Like they did to all institutions in this country, they have put justice under gun point.
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0 #3 Moody Senyonjo 2022-01-16 21:15
I add my voice to the plea for the release of Kakwenza, and all other prisoners of conscience.

While freedom of thought and expression is increasingly becoming a luxury for a privileged few in Uganda today, I appeal to the powers that be to reconsider their stand on the same.

We cannot keep recycling the mistakes of AMO (Detention without Trial etc) and Idi Amin's crackdowns on journalists and playwrights like Byron Kawadwa etc
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