Addressing journalists at Makerere University Guest House on Thursday, Arthur Nsereko, the Coordinator NETPIL, says the interference of police in the work of lawyers violates the rights of persons to legal representation and sets a bad precedent for the country.
Police in Kiryandongo district are under the
spotlight for the arbitrary arrest and detention of advocates representing
victims of illegal land evictions conducted during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Network of Public Interest Lawyers-NETPPIL
accuses police in the district of arresting seven lawyers from Kiiza and
Mugisha Advocates on Tuesday this week while interviewing the evictees.
The affected lawyers are Ezron Kaijuka,
Christine Maruga, Joan Bulyerali, Brian Tuwayenga, Erick Bajole, Morgan Muhindo
and Elizabeth Nafula. They were also arrested together with their clients
including Samuel Paul Namanya, Sylvester Tumusiime, Eria Sanyu and Rogers
Byaruhanga among others.
Th evictions took place in Kikungulu, Kimugongoro, Kamusenene and Kapapula villages.
Addressing journalists at Makerere University Guest
House on Thursday, Arthur Nsereko, the Coordinator NETPIL, says the interference
of police in the work of lawyers violate the rights of persons to legal
representation and sets a bad precedent for the country.
//Cue in; Tukubira omulanga eri
Cue out...omulimu gwebasomerera.”//
According to Nsereko, they have received credible
information indicating that police in Kiryandongo has declined to register the
complaints of the evicted families while simultaneously registering and
believing those behind the evictions.
“This has resulted in the community yielding to homelessness,
desperation and hopelessness as they have nowhere to run to when their evictors
commit crimes against them including torture, malicious damage to property,
assault among others,” he said.
Morgan Muhindo, one of those who were arrested, says they
were charged them with spreading an infectious disease under unclear reason.
//Cue in; Twagendayo nga tulina…
Cue out… sure we observed.”//
Muhindo noted that their arrest by Kiryandongo police sparked
protests from human rights defenders, advocates, civil society actors and
locals who accused police of backing the illegal evictions.
Julius Hakiza, the Albertine Regional Police Spokesperson told URN that
the lawyers were released and hanged up.