The chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has called for a fair and speedy trial of Opposition leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, who is currently on remand at Luzira prison on treason charges.
Mr Medi Kaggwa made the call while addressing the press in Kampala yesterday about the recent human rights concerns in the country.
He also condemned the brutal arrest of Dr Besigye and FDC party supporters by the police and other security agencies in various parts of the country.
Dr Besigye, the runner up in this year’s presidential elections, was on May 11, arrested and taken to Moroto where he was charged with treason and later transferred to Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kampala and charged afresh on Wednesday.
He was remanded to Luzira prison until June 1 for mention of his case. Treason is a capital offence only tried by the High Court and attracts a death sentence on conviction.
“The Uganda Human Rights Commission noted the arrest of Dr Besigye, the former presidential candidate on Wednesday 11, 2016, and his being charged with treason at the Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court. The UHRC consequently calls upon all those concerned to ensure a fair and speedy trial…” Mr Kaggwa said.
On the charge sheet, the prosecution states that Dr Besigye and others still at large between February 20 and May 11 this year in diverse places in Uganda formed an intention to compel by force or constrain the government of Uganda to change its measures or counsels as to the lawfully established methods of acceding to the office of President.
Mr Kaggwa also condemned the beating up of people who were following Dr Besigye recently in the city. People were beaten up by masked men in the presence of police.
Days after the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, withdrew his officers from Dr Besigye’s home in Kasangati, Wakiso District, after a siege of over 45 days, masked men were seen randomly beating up people who followed the Opposition leader as he drove through the town to his party headquarters in Najjanankumbi.
Police were present but just looked away as the masked men inflicted mayhem on unarmed civilians.
“Media reports indicate that masked men beat up people in the streets of Kampala on Thursday 14 April, 2016 in the presence of the police without being restrained or arrested. The commission however, noted that the police disowned the masked gangs and said it had commissioned an investigation into the matter,” said Mr Kaggwa.
He added: “The commission notes that the public expects quick investigations whose findings should be made public.”
The UHRC is a government agency mandated to protect and promote human rights in the country.
The commission is also mandated to give guidance on any emerging human rights issues in the country by pointing out human rights violations that require urgent attention.
Article 28 (1) of the Constitution demands that in determination of civil obligations or any criminal charge, a person shall be entitled to a fair and speedy public trial before an independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law.