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Lawyers commend Police over handling of Makindye Court siege

By Farooq Kasule, Michael Odeng

Added 16th August 2016 01:12 PM

The commotion resulted in the stoning of a car belonging to lead lawyer Abdullah Kiwanuka

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Supporters of Gen. Kale Kayihura demonstrating at Makindye Magistrate’s Court. Photo by Meddie Musisi

The commotion resulted in the stoning of a car belonging to lead lawyer Abdullah Kiwanuka

A group of human right lawyers have commended Police for ensuring the safe evacuation of private prosecutors who recently filed a case of torture against the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura.    

In a joint statement read to journalists at Makerere University on Monday, lawyers led by Human Rights Network Uganda (HURINET) director, Muhammad Ndifuna appealed to the Police to continue providing security measures, requiring protection of actors in the Kayihura case when the case returns to court on August 29th. 

"We also continue to commend the police for their positive actions during the Makindye Magistrates Court siege by Kayihura supporters," he said. 

On Wednesday last week, the demonstrators chanted and run wildly around the court premises in an apparent attempt to dissuade and intimidate the Chief Magistrate, Richard Manabí from presiding over the scheduled trial while others carried out acts of intimidation and violence upon the persons and property of some of the lawyers who instituted criminal torture charges against Kayihura and other police officers. 

Lawyers of the complainants were also threatened with lynching, were temporarily blocked from accessing court premises and trapped in the Magistrate's chambers fearing for their safety.

The commotion resulted in the stoning of a car belonging to lead lawyer Abdullah Kiwanuka, of Lukwago and Company Advocates who was escorted by the police. 

The lawyers come from Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC), Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL), Legal Aid Service Providers Network (LASPNET), Foundation of Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) and African Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV). 

They also appealed to Kayihura and seven other senior officers to comply with the legal process. 

The lawyers said although the case was adjourned to decide on whether the DPP takes over the case in a bid to prosecute the accused as stipulated under article 120 of the Constitution, they have been notified that the DPP had petitioned High Court seeking revision of the magistrates' court procedures. 

"It is true that the constitution empowers the DPP to prosecute all cases but it should be done with the consent of court," Patricia Atim a NETPIL lawyer stated. 

They appealed to the DPP to handle the case to meet the end of administrative justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process in case it takes over the case. 

"Whenever the DPP takes over the case from private lawyers, it does not succeed regardless of evidence adduced in court," Atim stated. She added that the DPP tends to avoid pursuing political cases. 

The court presided over by Justice Joseph Murangira on Tuesday expected to hear an application by the DPP, seeking a revision of the case.    

Atim disclosed that article 120 (3c) of the constitution allows prosecution by any private person in order to bring an action against violation of another person or groups human rights. 

She added that Section 11 (1c) of the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture Act, 2012 also allows a victim or any person to bring a complaint of torture against any person before a magistrate.

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