Human rights defender unlawfully detained by police in Uganda

By APN Reporter  


Defence for Human Rights (DEFOHR) Executive Director Ms Florence Orishaba has now spent more than 48 constitutional hours in police custody without trial.

 It is alleged that she was arrested on 4th July 2021 shortly after launching a radio human rights programme in western Uganda in partnership with other NGOs.

 She was picked by plain clothed security officers from Bushenyi where she had held a human rights programme on one of the local fm radio stations in evening and was on the following day transferred to Mbarara central police station.

Reports from the Programmes coordinator of DEFOHR Uganda Mugisha Gilbert Karengye indicate that she was not told why she was arrested and neither was she made to record a statement both at Bushenyi and Mbarara police stations.

Mr Gilbert says their Executive Director could have been arrested on orders of some of the prominent perpetrators of human rights violations in western Uganda since the organization has embarked on radio programmes talking about the human rights violations which have become rampant during the COVID 19 lockdown especially the rights of women and girls and rights to ownership of property especially land.

It is believed that she was brutally arrested and sexually assaulted on that day and for two days neither her friends, family members, human rights activists could be allowed to access her until the third day of 7th July 2021 when journalists were allowed together with her lawyer who was in process of applying for her police bond.

Since that day up to now, Ms Florence Orishaba is still unlawfully being held by police and her lawyer has failed to secure police bond. Her lawyer from Newmark Advocates company has reportedly told our reporter that the next step being made is to ask the courts of law to order for her unconditional release and be taken to court for trial in case she has a case to answer.

While speaking to our reporter, the programs coordinator of DEFOHR Uganda Mr. Mugisha Gilbert Karengye said that despite the arrest of the Executive Director, all the organization’s programs are smoothly going on but is calling on the government security agencies to stop harassing human rights activists and organizations.

During the election period of Uganda in January this year, the government became tough on NGOs accusing them of sponsoring subversive activities of opposition political parties especially the leading opposition party National Unity Platform (NUP) led by the then Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Hon Bobi Wine Kyagulanyi.

According to the programmes coordinator Mr. Gilbert, DEFOHR Uganda is calling upon and has written to the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the parliamentary committee on human rights to intervene in this matter where a human rights defender is being unlawfully detained in police cells.