Inter-Parliamentary Union Calls for Arrest of Ugandan Torturers

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has called for the arrest of those military officers responsible for brutalizing Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake. Following a request for clarification from the Ugandan government last month, which was never answered, the IPU is now additionally requesting to send an observer mission to monitor the trials for both MPs. The full text of the IPU release is below:

Following the torture of Ugandan opposition MPs Robert Kyagulanyi Seentamu, known as Bobi Wine, and Francis Zaake, the IPU joins the Ugandan Parliament in urging the authorities to arrest the military officers involved, to respect due process and to conduct a fair trial for the MPs whose cases are pending. IPU official letters sent to the authorities in August asking for more information on the MPs have so far remained unanswered. The IPU has requested to send a trial observer to ensure that the MPs’ human rights are fully respected.

The two MPs were arrested, with three other parliamentarians, by military officers on 15 August, on the eve of the Arua municipality by-elections. The arrests took place shortly after President Museveni’s convoy was reportedly pelted with stones. Robert Kyagulanyi is a young parliamentarian and popular singer, particularly among young people. Through his songs and parliamentary work, he has spoken out publicly and vocally against President Museveni and his government.

After being freed, Robert Kyagulanyi and Francis Zaake travelled abroad for their injuries. There were credible reports that Robert Kyagunlanyi was again seriously mistreated the day before he was allowed to fly out of the country on 28 August 2018. He is expected to return to Uganda this week.

Gabriela Cuevas, IPU President, said: “Fears for Bobi Wine’s security remain very real in the absence of any measures taken by the Ugandan authorities to ensure accountability for the horrible treatment inflicted on him. We are following his case and those of the other MPs very closely.”

Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General, said “The IPU unreservedly supports the Parliament of Uganda in its demand for the immediate arrest and trial of the military officers involved. All Ugandan MPs must be able to fulfil their mandate and express themselves freely without fear of further violence and intimidation, in compliance with the Ugandan Constitution, laws and international human rights standards”.

The case has been submitted to the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians which will review it during the 139th IPU Assembly (Geneva, 14-18 October 2018). The IPU Committee seeks to protect and defend MPs under threat. It is currently working on over 550 cases worldwide, most of which concern opposition MPs.