News / Africa

HRW: Kenyan Activists in Danger of Torture in Uganda

Michael Onyiego

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on Ugandan authorities to release Kenyan lawyer Mbugua Mureithi and activist Al-Amin Kimathi or allow them a fair trial. The two have been detained since September 15, when they were arrested on arrival in Uganda.

The pair traveled to Kampala to observe the arraignment of terror suspects accused of carrying out attacks in the Ugandan capital. A total of 34 have been arrested in connection with twin blasts during July's World Cup Final which left 76 dead. While al-Qaida-linked Somali group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attacks, authorities have also arrested Kenyan, Ugandan and Tanzanian suspects.

Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, a Ugandan lawyer representing some of the suspects, reported the Mureithi and Kimathi missing after they failed to appear at the September 16 hearing. Ugandan police have confirmed the two were being held by the Rapid Response Unit, a division which Human Rights Watch Researcher Ben Rawlence says is notorious for rights violations.

"We are familiar with the Rapid Response Unit over a period of time," said Rawlence.  "They do not have a very good record. They have a very broad, undefined mandate and there have been a number of cases where suspects have been detained, beaten and tortured in a place called Kireka, which is an ungazetted detention facility. It is kind of like a 'black site' where they can do anything they like. We have previously documented multiple cases of torture and mistreatment of suspects at Kireka and at least two suspects have died while in the custody of agents affiliated with the Rapid Response Unit."

According to Human Rights Watch, the two are currently being held at the facility in Kireka, a neighborhood in Kampala, but their condition was unknown. They have not been given access to counsel and Rawlence told VOA Human Rights Watch was concerned for their welfare.

In 2009, Ugandan journalist Kalundi Sserumaga was beaten and detained in Kireka for making critical remarks about Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on a political talk show. According to Human Rights Watch, at least two people have been beaten to death by members of the Rapid Response Unit. The suspects were detained for alleged thefts and Ugandan authorities say their deaths are under investigation.

Mureithi and Kimathi, were in Uganda to provide counsel to a number of Kenyan citizens being charged by the Uganda authorities for the July attack. Both have been critical of the extradition process used to bring the Kenyan suspects to stand trial in Uganda. The two have argued the removal was tantamount to kidnapping, citing the lack of arrest warrants or court orders required under Kenyan law for extradition.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs