Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu’s (a.k.a Bobi Wine) family petitions the Uganda Human Rights Commission
The family of detained Kyadondo North MP Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu commonly known as Bobi Wine has sought the help of Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), which has the mandate to ensure observance of human rights and personal liberties, to locate his whereabouts.
Led by their lawyer Ladislas Rwakafuuzi, the family members who included Kyagulany’s mother Mrs. Sarah Buyinza, Bobi Wine’s brother Banjo Man and Artiste David Lutalo said they had been denied access to the legislator and therefore did not know his whereabouts contrary to Article 23(5), (a) and (b) of the Constitution that is why they had to formally complain to the Commission.
“We have not seen him; received no text message or call from him since he was arrested three days ago (which is contrary to article 23(4), (b). His wife (Barbie Itungo) has been to Gulu where we were told at first that he was being detained but she was just chased away. We are indeed very worried about his whereabouts and condition,” Mrs. Buyinza said during the interaction the group had with the Commission at its headquarters at Twed Plaza yesterday. The meeting was also attended by a sizable number of members of the media.
Banjo Man who is also an artiste with Kyagulanyi’s firebase crew appealed for results from the Commission by at least making urgent interventions in defending his brother’s rights and freedoms, given its mandate to protect and promote human rights in the country as provided under Article 52(1), (a) and (b) of the Constitution.
“We got information that he was pierced with needles to disable his mental capabilities which is tantamount to torture or degrading treatment or punishment. We were also told that he fainted in the plane while being airlifted to Bombo Military barracks. We were told that he was going to be taken to court today (yesterday) at 10:00am but it is now midday and nothing has happened. I am requesting on my behalf and on behalf of the family to know how far you have gone with this matter and what you have done so far,” Banjo pleaded.
Artiste Lutalo urged the Commission to pursue the matter with the urgency it deserves. Former Kyagulanyi’s Manager who only identified himself as Mukiibi said what worries them most is that he is alleged to be receiving medical treatment from the same people who are alleged to have tortured him into the state he is believed to be in currently. “We request that the Commission helps us to talk to whoever is holding him to hand him over to us so that we can treat him and safeguard his right to life under article 22 (1) and right to medical treatment under Article 23(5), (c) of the Constitution,” he said.
Responding to Josephine Namakumbi, a journalist who was in the company of Hon. Kyagulanyi’s entourage concern on what penalty would be handed down to the perpetrators of alleged torture metted against the legislators and other civilians, the Commission’s Director Complaints, Investigations and Legal Services (CIL) Ms. Ida Nakiganda assured the public that the perpetrators will be brought to book if proved guilty. She further informed them and the public that unlike in the past, the new Anti -Torture law which came into force in 2012 will be currently invoked by the UHRC tribunals and other courts of law to hold the perpetrators of torture individually liable for their actions.
Director Nakiganda on behalf of the Commission also assured the petitioners that all the cases arising from the Arua bye-election fracas squarely fall within the Commission’s Constitutional mandate and functions and will therefore be handled accordingly. She informed them that the Commission was making frantic efforts to access Hon. Kyagulanyi to ascertain his condition but had unfortunately not been able to succeed to date. (Thursday 16th August 2018). The Commission had not yet accessed his fellow MP Francis Zaake Butebi of Mityana as well.
“We handle complaints brought by someone or those we initiate on our own. When we get such complaint like yours, we investigate and forward our findings to the tribunal which orders reparations to victims and punishment for individual perpetrators. The Commission also in some cases engages key players involved in incidents of alleged human rights violations in a bid to employ a multi-thronged approach to achieve tangible interventions for victims of alleged human rights violations,” she said.
Ms Nakiganda gave an update of what the Commission has so far done in this case saying that it has been closely monitoring the events right from the campaigns Arua and the incidents that followed the elections. “The Commission teams in our Arua and Gulu Regional Offices have been and continue to follow this matter and including demanding to access the suspects in both places and the condition they are in. We have for instance been able to see 34 suspects including the other MPs save for Kyagulanyi and Zaake noted with concern that six of them allege to have been tortured on arrest. The Gulu team has informed us that two of the suspects were released and we have just received unconfirmed reports that the suspects will be charged tomorrow (Friday) not today (Thursday),” she said. She therefore promised that the Commission will do everything humanly possible to access Kyagulanyi and ascertain his condition. Ms. Nakiganda also promised to inform the family and their lawyers of any development in respect of the two MP’s condition or whereabouts.
The lead petitioner, lawyer Ladislas Rwakafuuzi commended the Commission for hearing them out and for the efforts so far made to ensure that the rights of the victims are not further violated. He called on the rest of his team (petitioners) to accord the Commission which had given them assurances to keenly follow up the concerns raised, the opportunity to carry out its constitutional mandate and appealed for calm among the family and well-wishers of the victims of the current situation.