Uganda: Court Orders Army, Police to Produce Arrested Lawyer

Court has ordered security agencies to present detained lawyer Patrick Machika Mugisha before the High Court with immediate effect.

The court issued the order on August 2 against the Attorney General, the Chief of Defence Forces, the commander of Special Forces Command, commandant of the Special Investigations Unit at Kireka and the Inspector General of Police.

The court ordered the security agencies to produce the accused today. It also wants the State to justify Mugisha's continued detention or else a declaration of illegal detention and order for unconditional release be issued.

Mr Mugisha, a partner in Mwesige, Mugisha & Company Advocates, was picked up on July 31, from his office in Muyenga, a city suburb, by unknown security people dressed in civilian clothes.

On August 2, the Uganda Law Society (ULS) issued a statement of "deep concern" about the illegal arrest and detention of lawyers on directives of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO).

The ULS president, Mr Simon Peter Kinobe, said they had learnt that Mr Mugisha was under ISO detention without any charges or being taken to court.

"Advocate Mugisha has been illegally detained beyond the 48 hours allowed by law, and the ULS highly condemns this act. We, therefore, call upon Col Frank Kaka Bagyenda, the Director General ISO, who is responsible for his disappearance, to immediately release him from illegal detention. We also call upon the police to investigate the incident with an aim of prosecuting all those responsible for his illegal detention," Mr Kinobe said.

Ultimatum

He added that ULS would follow up the matter keenly to ensure justice is done and the perpetrators brought to book.

"As Uganda Law Society, we cannot continue to look on as a few individuals descend our country into chaos without reprisal. We cannot be observers in the perpetration of impunity with no call to action. Should ISO fail to comply with our demands to unconditionally release the detained citizens by Wednesday, August 7, we shall have no choice but to further escalate the matter," Mr Kinobe said.

Efforts to get a comment from Col Bagyenda were futile as repeated calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said the lawyer was not in their custody.

The law

Article 23 (4) of the Constitution requires State agencies to produce detained suspects in court not later than 48 hours from the time of arrest.

ULS says Section 11 of the Security Organisations Act states that it is a crime for an employee of ISO, including the Director General, to "detain or confine any person" and thus the behaviour of arrest and detention by ISO operatives is not only illegal but is tantamount to kidnap.

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