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Ugandan Author Who Criticized President’s Son Denied Passport


FILE - Ugandan author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija appears before a court in a failed bid to have his passport returned, in Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 1, 2022.

A satirical author arrested in Uganda for insulting the son of President Yoweri Museveni has been denied permission to travel abroad. The satirical author had hoped to travel abroad to pick up an award and receive medical treatment.

Appearing in a Kampala courtroom Monday afternoon, author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija hoped the magistrate would ease some of his bail conditions.

Kakwenza, through his lawyer, was seeking release of his passport and also asked that his case be moved to the High Court for trial.

Kakwenza wants to travel to Germany to pick up a writing award and receive specialized treatment for torture he allegedly received in jail.

But lawyer Eron Kiiza says all the submitted requests were denied.

“It jeopardizes the chances of our client to fight for his life and his health following the military torture in Entebbe. It’s obvious, since we started trying to expose his torture, they have been fighting it. So, this is the latest attempt to shield the wrongdoing from scrutiny,” Kiiza said.

In December 2021, Kakwenza was arrested for “offensive communication” under Uganda’s Computer Misuse Act.

The author had written that the president’s son, Lt. Gen. Kainerugaba Muhoozi, was obese and bad tempered. Muhoozi is seen as Museveni’s possible successor in the next election in 2026.

Kakwenza was detained for a month, and for part of that time, he was held by the military at an unidentified location where he was reportedly tortured.

Kakwenza has said he was severely beaten and made to dance through the day and night with few hours of sleep. He said his captors also used a pair of pliers to pluck flesh from his thighs.

Photos of his body published in local media show torture marks on his back, thighs and hands.

After the release of the images on social media last week, the U.S. and EU called for the prosecution of security personnel involved in torture. Ugandan officials have not commented on the claims.

However, the magistrate ruled that Kakwenza has no serious illness to warrant specialized treatment in Europe and said his medical condition can be handled in Uganda.

The magistrate also stated that Kakwenza does not need to visit Germany to receive his award, as this can be done online. He also turned down the request to move the writer’s case to the high court.

Kakwenza’s trial is now set to begin on March 23.

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