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Falana petitions UN over continued house arrest of Ugandan opposition leader

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FEMI Falana, a human rights lawyer, has petitioned the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UN-WGAD) over the continued house arrest of Ugandan opposition, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine.

Wine, who was the major opposition leader during the just concluded presidential election in Uganda, has been reportedly detained by security operatives together with members of his family shortly after casting his vote. He complained that his house had been under military siege since last Thursday.

He lost to Yoweri Museveni, incumbent president, in an election that was grossly characterised by security intimidation and rigging.

In his petition to the UN-WGAD, a body of independent human rights experts that investigate cases of arbitrary arrest and detention of the United Nations (UN), Falana said that the Ugandan government “is arbitrarily depriving activist, musician, journalist, and politician, Bobi Wine, of his liberty and continues to arbitrarily put him and his wife, Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi, under house arrest.”

He said the continued detention of Wine and his family was arbitrary and in violation of Uganda’s Constitution and obligations under international human rights law.

He noted that the action was a stark violation of Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) guaranteeing the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention.

He urged the UN-WGAD to compel the Ugandan government for his release and to also initiate a procedure involving the investigation of the case of Wine together with his wife and his domestic staff.

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He requested that UN-WGAD should “send an allegation letter to the Government of Uganda inquiring about the case generally” and raise specific questions about the legal basis for his arrest, detention, and/or degrading treatment, each of which is in violation of international law.”

He stated that Wine, 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.

Related StoryUgandan election: Bobi Wine says he is under military siege

The human rights lawyer said, “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.”

He called for “immediate and unconditional lifting of the house arrest enforced on 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 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.

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The lawyer also requested that Ugandan government award 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.”

Vincent Ufuoma is a reporter with The ICIR. He is a lover of God, truth, knowledge and justice.

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