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Uganda: Kenyan Activists At Risk of TortureAlysha Atma Salem-News.com African Affairs Correspondent
Human Rights Watch has documented multiple cases of torture and mistreatment of suspects held at Kireka.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - At risk for abuse, Human Rights Watch voiced their concerns over two Kenyan activists illegally detained in Uganda while working on the cases of charged terrorism suspects.
“The Ugandan police should immediately bring these individuals to lawful places of detention and clarify the reasons for their arrest,” said Rona Peligal, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Police officials in Kireka should know that they will be held responsible if either of these human rights defenders is mistreated.”
According to reports, human rights activist Al-Amin Kimathi of the Kenyan Muslim Human Rights Forum and Kenyan lawyer Mbugua Mureithi were arrested on September 15, 2010, upon arrival at Entebbe airport. The activists traveled to Uganda to attend the scheduled September 16 hearing of 34 terrorism suspects. A police official confirmed to a media inquiry that the two are in custody but would not specify where they were being held or on what grounds.
Sources indicate they were taken to Kireka, Kampala, the Ugandan police force Rapid Response Unit headquarters. Rapid Response Unit has a history of committing serious violations against detained suspects, including torture and extrajudicial executions. Kireka is not designated under Ugandan law as a legal place of detention, though suspects are often held there for long periods of time.
Kimathi and Mureithi have been outspoken critics of the extradition of Kenyans facing prosecution for the Uganda, July 2010 bombings. Mureithi, representing the families of suspects in Ugandan detention, told the media that the Kenyan government had made no attempts to follow extradition procedures. He argued that without arrest warrants for the suspects in Kenya or court orders granting permission, the transfer of suspects from Kenya to Uganda amounted to “kidnapping.”
Kimathi is a human rights activist, focusing on issues relevant to the Muslim community in Kenya he created Muslim Human Rights Forum in 2005. The organization rose to prominence in 2007 when it began documenting the arbitrary detention, secret expulsion, and unlawful rendition of dozens of men, women, and children who fled Somalia to Kenya in 2006 and early 2007.
“The Ugandan police may not agree with the concerns Mureithi and Kimathi have raised about the suspects on trial, but that is no reason to lock them up,” Peligal said. “All suspects have a right to legal counsel. These arrests look like pure harassment of human rights defenders because they’re advocating for their clients.”
Human Rights Watch has documented multiple cases of torture and mistreatment of suspects held at Kireka. “Given the history of serious abuses at Kireka, the Ugandan government must take urgent action to ensure that no harm comes to Mureithi and Kimathi,” Peligal said.
Source: Human Rights Watch
Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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