Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Free Namwanga Immediately or Take Her to Court

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 After one week of not knowing where DP stalwart Annet Namwanga was being held I decided to mount a physical search by visiting JATT Headquarters in Kololo Summit View and later CMI Headquarters near Mulago. All our previous efforts had yielded no useful information. We spoke to several security officials but they were tight lipped about Ms. Namwanga.
At JATT the officer there simply brushed us off by saying "we also read about her in the papers". Obviously he was not willing to share information. On account of his rank (Captain) he was probably not authorized to talk. I contacted the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) where an official told me that he would "try to find out more information" and get back to me. I never heard from him.
We then contacted a senior CMI official. That is when we learnt that Annet was arrested from her place of work at Mulago in a joint operation with the police.
Ms. Namwanga is wife to Lawrence Kiwanuka, a journalist who was hounded into exile by persistent persecution. He is the immediate past President of the US Chapter of the Democratic Party and still sits on the branch executive committee. He is also a member of my campaign's fundraising committee and the Democratic Policy Study Group (DPSG). Ms. Namwanga is a quiet, unassuming and reliable person. On occasion she played the role of receiving funds from the US members on behalf of our party. The transfers, though regular, did not involve very large sums of money because most of the transactions are online via our websites.
We now know that the CMI handed Ms. Namwanga to the police but we do not know for how long they had held her and where. We have no idea of the charges but since she is being held alongside others, we suspect that it may be concerning alleged subversive activities. At least Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye has given a hint about that.
No matter what crimes Ms. Namwanga is alleged to have committed, as a citizen of Uganda, she is entitled to protection by the constitution. By holding her incommunicado for one week, the security forces have violated her constitutional rights. Her right to due process has been violated. She has been denied access to a lawyer and to members of her family. I also requested to be allowed to visit her in detention but my request was denied.
We condemn in the strongest terms Ms. Namwanga's illegal detention and the uncouth manner of her arrest reminiscent of Idi Amin's dark days. We demand that she should be released immediately. If there are any charges against her, then she should be produced before a competent court immediately.
We are also concerned that Ms. Namwanga's arrest may be connected to her role in my campaigns and her being a spouse to an exiled dissident and strong critic of President Museveni and his regime. The timing and manner of Ms. Namwanga's arrest is clearly intended to strike terror in the hearts of opposition activists.
Ms. Namwanga must have her day in court. All allegations by the state must be tested in open court. The Democratic Party will stand solidly with her and provide the legal support to ensure a vigorous defence against all charges. We believe that Ms. Namwanga is innocent and talking about her alleged crimes in the media by the security forces is prejudicial to her case and undermines her right to a fair trial.
We call upon our members not to be intimidated. We must intensify our campaign efforts. We must innoculate our people against fear. We shall remain steadfast and unbowed. These are the last kicks of a dying regime and the birth pangs of the New Uganda we seek to build. A Uganda based on the rule of law and not the arbitrary law of rulers.

Norbert Mao, Esq.,

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