Nigeria: Falana Petitions UN Working Group Over Bobi Wine's House Arrest

19 January 2021

The human rights lawyer urged the UN affiliate body to investigate Bobi Wine's arrest and declare it unlawful.

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has submitted a complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UN-WGAD) over the continued house arrest of Ugandan opposition figure, Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine.

Mr Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, disclosed this and made a copy of the complaint available in mails sent to PREMIUM TIMES and some journalists Tuesday.

Mr Falana urged the UN-WGAD, an affiliate body of the global organisation, the United Nations (UN), to "initiate a procedure involving the investigation of the case of Mr. Wine together with his wife and his domestic staff".

Aside from demanding the immediate release of Mr Wine and other detained persons, Mr Falana asked the group to "send an allegation letter to the Government of Uganda inquiring about the case generally" and raise spexific questions "about the legal basis for his arrest, detention, and/or degrading treatment, each of which is in violation of international law".

He asked the UN group to issue "an opinion declaring that the deprivation of liberty and detention of Mr Wine, together with his wife and domestic staff is arbitrary and in violation of Uganda's Constitution and obligations under international human rights law".

Ugandan security forces had reportedly laid siege to Mr Wine's house since Thursday's controversial election which returned 76-year-old President Yoweri Museveni to office for a sixth term.

Mr Wine, his wife, Barbara Kyagulanyi, children and domestic staff, were said to have been detained in the house after he cast his vote on Thursday.

The pop-star-turned-politician, 38, has repeatedly experienced harrassmsent, arrest and detention by Ugandan security agencies in the period leading to the just-concluded election in which he polled 34.8 per cent of the votes.

Petition

Mr Falana stated in his petition to the UN-WGAD that the Ugandan government "is arbitrarily depriving activist, musician, Journalist, and politician, Bobi Wine of his liberty and continue to arbitrarily put him and his wife, Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi under house arrest".

According to him, the detention is arbitrary under Category I as it is "clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty."

He added that it violated Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), "which guarantees the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention."

He stated that Mr Wine, the presidential candidate of the National Unity Platform (NUP) in the Ugandan presidential election, had been detained incommunicado and without access to the outside world including his lawyers.

Mr Falana added, "Mr. Wine and his wife are being illegally detained for days without any criminal charges preferred against him. He has also been denied adequate supply of food by hundreds of Uganda military forces and policemen who have laid siege to his house for the umpteenth time since the election day.

"I am therefore seeking an opinion from the Working Group finding the house arrest and continuing detention of Mr. Wine and his wife to be arbitrary and in violation of Uganda's Constitution of 1995 (as amended) and obligations under international human rights law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights to which Uganda is a state party."

Among his prayers specifically directed at the Ugandan government, Mr Falana called for "the immediate and unconditional lifting of the house arrest enforced on Mr. Wine, his wife and domestic staff."

He also requested that the Ugandan government "investigate and hold accountable all military and police officers and security agents suspected to be responsible for the unlawful arrest, continued detention, and degrading treatment of Mr. Wine, together with his wife and others."

The senior Nigerian lawyer also requested the Ugandan authorities to immediately withdraw the military and police forces "currently laying siege in the premises of Mr Wine."

He also asked the Ugandan government to allow Mr Wine and wife have access to lawyers and doctors.

The lawyer also requested that Ugandan government award Mr Wine, his wife and others "adequate compensation for the violations they have suffered as a result of their unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention, and torture and other ill-treatment."

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