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Amnesty Urgent Actions
Startseite Urgent Actions 2010 09 Lawyer and activist held incommunicado
UA 205/10
Uganda
Abgeschlossen am 20. September 2010

Lawyer and activist held incommunicado

AI-Index: AFR 59/010/2010

Kenyan lawyer Mbugua Mureithi and human rights activist Al-Amin Kimathi of the Kenyan human rights organisation, the Muslim Human Rights Forum, were arrested by Ugandan officials on 15 September. They are being held incommunicado in an unknown detention facility in the capital, Kampala. They are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Mbugua Mureithi and Al-Amin Kimathi were arrested by Ugandan police and immigration officials on arrival in Entebbe, in southern Uganda. The two men had travelled to Uganda from Kenya to represent at least three Kenyans arrested in connection with the 11 July 2010 bombings in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

No criminal charges have been made against Mbugua Mureithi and Al-Amin Kimathi. They are being held incommunicado at an unknown detention facility within Kampala. A Ugandan lawyer, who is also representing some of the men facing charges in connection with the bombings, has been refused access to them. Their arrests and continued incommunicado detention also impact on their clients’ rights to a fair trial, in particular, the right to legal representation. Because of their arrest and detention they have not had a chance to meet with their clients who are charged with offences including murder and terrorism, punishable by death under Ugandan law. Since the arrest of Mbugua Mureithi and Al-Amin Kimathi, the court case involving their clients has continued in their absence.

In August 2010, Mbugua Mureithi and Al-Amin Kimathi filed an application in the Kenya High Court, on behalf of at least three suspects of Kenyan nationality, regarding the arrest and subsequent unlawful transfer of the suspects from Kenya to Uganda by Kenyan and Ugandan authorities. The court application remains pending. Amnesty International fears that their arrest and continued detention relates to their work as legal representatives of some of the people charged in relation to the July bombings.

Additional Information

On 11 July 2010, over 76 people were killed and hundreds injured as a result of bombings by unknown people at two different public venues in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Following criminal investigations in Uganda and Kenya, in the last few weeks over 30 people of different nationalities, including Ugandan, Kenyan and Somali, have been arrested in connection with the bombings and charged with criminal offences, including murder, terrorism and attempted murder. The trial process remains ongoing.

Amnesty International has documented the unlawful transfer of suspects from Kenya to Uganda, and the incommunicado detention and allegations of ill-treatment of a number of the suspects who all remain in detention. In addition, we are concerned about the impact that the intense publicity about alleged confessions may have on the fairness of the trials.

Amnesty International, the Uganda Human Rights Commission and local human rights organisations have, in the past, documented reports of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees at the hands of Uganda police officers.

The right to a fair trial, including the right to legal assistance is provided for in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which Uganda is party. These rights are also provided for under Article 28 of the Ugandan Constitution.

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