Below is the Report and request for assistance from the Human Rights Legal Team in Uganda. It is our belief at African Human Rights Coalition that this group was targeted under suspicion that it is a shelter for homeless LGBTQI youth. In typical fashion the Ugandan Government, when it cannot make use of its direct anti-homosexuality Penal Codes, will use laws in a persecutory fashion under the false notion that it can 'eradicate homosexuality from Uganda.'
On Monday the 31st of May 2021, police officers raided the shelter of Happy Family Youth Uganda Limited located in Nansana Municipality, Wakiso District. At the time of the raid, there was a party going on. They arrested a total of 44 persons who were attending the party and detained them at Nansana Police Station and at Lubigi Police Post.
Statements made by the KMP Spokesperson Luke Owoyesigire in the media suggest that the raid was prompted by reports from locals that a gay wedding was taking place at that venue.
42 of those arrested were arraigned before the Nansana Magistrates Court today (Tuesday 1st June 2021) at about 5.30pm. The official charge is doing a negligent act likely to spread infection of disease contrary to section 171 of the Penal Code Act. They all pleaded Not Guilty and were remanded. Because it was late in the evening, they were not allowed to apply for bail. The bail hearing has instead been scheduled for tomorrow 2nd June at 9am. All are being held overnight at the police station pending the bail hearing.
The detainees have made allegations of torture by police officers but these are yet to be verified. What is clear is that at least 17 persons who were in detention at Nansana Police Station were subjected to anal examinations without their consent. This is despite assurances to the lawyers and activists by the stations' leadership and senior officials from the Police that this would not happen, as the circumstances did not warrant anal examinations.
HRAPF, SMUG, and other partners as well as community paralegals are working hard to ensure that the at least 84 sureties usually required are available tomorrow at court by 9am. At this stage we still need about 42 more people to be available to stand surety. Getting sureties is usually the most complicated part of such cases of mass arrests. We encourage persons who can obtain Local Council letters confirming their residences and copies of their national IDs as well as the original ID to come to Nansana Court tomorrow by 9am ready to stand surety.
Bail money is available for all the 42 and it is ready to be posted immediately in the event that the magistrate decides to grant them cash bail. We are hopeful that they will be able to come out tomorrow if we do secure bail. The lawyers are ready and we think all should go well tomorrow.
The detainees will however need emergency support including food and accommodation when they get released and all these need to be arranged. As such we encourage all partners able to support this process to reach out to SMUG in order to coordinate efforts.
This is the latest in a worrying trend of mass arrests of LGBT persons whenever there is a gathering of any kind within the Kampala/Wakiso area. Impunity continues to escalate as well as acts of torture and violence against LGBT persons - including anal examinations. The authorities seem not to charge such persons with carnal knowledge against the order of nature perhaps due to the absence of evidence to support such a charge but use charges such as being a common nuisance and now the COVID-19 related restrictions to persecute LGBT persons. With the Sexual Offences Bill recently passed, this may be a harbinger of worse things to come. Adrian Jjuuko, LLD, Executive Director . Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF)
Caveat: African Human Rights Coalition (AHRC), helps manage a grant from Safe Places International, that contributes to the support of Happy Family Youth Ugand.
UPDATED 11.00 AM PST: Today was yet another hectic day - but we did not achieve our aim of securing the freedom of all the 42 detainees. The charge sheet officially has 42 persons. Of the other two persons - we are aware that one of them was detained somewhere else, and one person was released earlier. Earlier today 3 of the detainees were released on bail. These were service providers.
The group of 39 was transferred from the police station to Kitalya Mini Maxi Prison - and our experiences with that particular prison and LGBT persons are a cause for worry. The last time a large LGBT group was detained there, they were subjected to beatings, insults, burnings and anal examinations. We do not have a basis to suggest that this time they will be treated differently, more so since the circumstances of their arrest are all over the media. Some of those arrested were part of the COSF-20 that were detained there last year, and we feel that they will not be very safe in those premises. Our aim therefore is to get them out of Kitalya Prison as soon as practicable.
Today's bail hearing started at about 3pm - rather than the scheduled 9am and by the time all sureties had been examined it was past 5pm. The State Attorney requested for time to examine the documents submitted and prepare their response to the bail application. The magistrate allowed this and thus adjourned the matter to Friday 4th June 2021 at 9am. We expect the State attorney to object to the bail application and to some of the sureties which will lead to lengthy proceedings. Adrian Jjuuko, LLD Executive Director Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) HRAPF House,
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