25 January 2011

Uganda: Please Produce Annet Namwanga

One family in Kampala is living in fear and uncertainty. Today marks a week since one of their family members, Ms Annet Namwanga, an employee of Mulago Referral Hospital, was reportedly picked up by unidentified men in uniform and taken to where no one seems to able to trace her.

If Ms Namwanga's disappearance is worrying, the manner in which she was abducted is even more disturbing. In broad daylight, the uniformed men bundled her into a car at her workplace, and sped out of the hospital to where no one is willing to mention.

Initial reports and investigations show that certain security apparatus had a hand in this act. Ms Namwanga's sins reportedly stem from the fact that she could have been a conduit for money sent from abroad to facilitate certain opposition politicians. Her husband, Mr Lawrence Kiwanuka, a journalist critical of this government currently lives in exile in the US, where he also chairs the US-DP Chapter.

Like we have indicated before, irrespective of one's crime, the due process of the law must be respected. If the state machinery is convinced that an individual is acting mischievously, they must effect justice in a proper manner. We all know that the police are tasked with investigations and that charges are then sanctioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

But the manner in which the police spokesperson and her army counterpart have exhibited ignorance about this particular case shows that something is amiss. If the proper security structures are not aware of such a high-profile kidnap from such a public place like Mulago Hospital seven days later, where should the ordinary person draw solace and confidence? Why should anyone have confidence that indeed these security agencies (the police and the army) are in charge?

We find this despicable and an abdication of duty. We challenge the police to find Ms Namwanga, wherever she is being held, and produce her in courts of law, if she has a case to answer. As the Besigye terrorism case showed recently, using unorthodox means to manufacture guilt might never stand the legal test.

Like all Ugandans, Ms Namwanga is entitled to a fair and open legal process. We demand that you accord her one  -but first produce her.

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