The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

31 May 2011

Tanzania: Kenya And Uganda Govts Sued in Arusha

Arusha — Uganda and Kenya governments are likely to be arraigned over alleged human rights violations and breach of constitutions following a suit filed at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) .The two governments are being targeted by the East African Law Society, the premier bar association in the region, which filed one case against each.

The suit was presented to the Office of the EACJ Registrar in Arusha by the vice-president of the regional law body, Mr Aggrey Mwamu, shortly before 5pm yesterday after all formalities were completed.In the documents presented before the regional court, the Uganda government is accused of gross violation of human rights on its citizens who were engaged in 'walk to work' protests. These swept the country from March this year, leading to some deaths, injuries and destruction of property.

The EALS alleged that the security forces in Uganda were behind arbitrary arrests and killing of innocent people during the chaos "in violation of the very basic tenets of human rights" which guarantee them freedom of speech and movement.

Briefing the media before the case was formally filed at the court chambers located in the Diamond Trust Building along Moshi road, Mr Mwamu said the regional law society was empowered to raise its voice over matters pertaining to human rights violation.

"The memorandum of articles empowers the society to intervene in matters pertaining to human rights violation and arrest the situation before it gets out of hand", he told reporters at the court premises.

The East African Community (EAC) was not spared by the suit which is likely to generate interests once the case gets off the ground. Its secretary general was accused of having remained 'quiet' despite the deteriorating situation in Uganda.

Mr Mwamu argued that the arbitrary arrests, beating of people and killing that followed were against the EAC Treaty articles and clauses on good governance and adherence to human rights as agreed upon by all the five partner states.

"As the atrocities were committed in Uganda, neither the EAC secretary general nor any of the five members of the Community, raised concern. They all kept quiet...this is against the EAC Treaty," he said.

The suit also included a rendition case against the Kenya government for what the EALS described as unconstitutional extradition of Kenya citizens to Uganda to face charges related to terrorist activities in Kampala in July 2010. EALS officials charged that the Kenyans were handed over to the Uganda authorities without any legal procedures being taken. These included extradition formalities that are required to transfer a suspect to another country.

"The Kenya citizens were handed over in a casual manner without any legal process. This was also inconsistent with the Kenya Constitution. To make matters worse, the EAC boss did nothing to remind the partner states on the anomaly," he said.

The third case in the suit was on the glaring contradictions between the EAC Common Market Protocol and the Treaty that established the EAC "which we feel must be sufficiently addressed before things get out of hand".

Officials of the EACJ said after the cases were filed that summons would be served on the governments of Uganda and Kenya within 14 days. Thereafter, the court would convene a pre-trial meeting to determine when the cases would be heard.

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