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MABIRIZI TAKES NOVELIST KAKWENZA CASE TO EACJ COURT

By Joel Mugabi

Perennial litigant Hassan Male Mabirizi has filed an application in the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) seeking orders for the nullification of charges against novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.

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On Tuesday, Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate Dr Douglas Singiza remanded Kakwenza to Kitalya Prison until Friday, January 21, 2022. The 33-year-old writer, and resident of Kisaasi Central in Kampala City’s Nakawa Division, was charged with two counts of offensive communication contrary to section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act 2011.

Prosecution alleges that between December 24 and 28, 2021, while in Kampala District, Kakwenza willfully and repeatedly used his Twitter handle Kakwenza Rukira (@kakwenzarukira) to disturb the peace of His Excellency the President of Uganda, Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, as well as that of first son and Commander Land Forces (CLF) Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, with no purpose of legitimate Communication.

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Besides remanding Kakwenza, Dr Singiza, on hearing that the suspect was “very sick,” also directed the Kitalya Prison Medical Superintendent to conduct medical examinations on the novelist and report to court about his health status on January 21.

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But Mabirizi argues that it was wrong, illegal and unlawful for the Chief Magistrate to remand a “very sick” person. According to the Human Rights Enforcement Act, if a presiding judicial officer handling a criminal proceeding learns that the accused person’s non-derogable rights and freedoms have been infringed upon, s/he should just declare the trial a nullity and order the suspect’s acquittal. According to Eron Kiiza, Kakwenza’s lawyer, the writer has been tortured while in detention.

The youthful lawyer also complains that it was unlawful for security officers to go ahead and arrest Kakwenza when Museveni and his son had not filed complaints at police stations to report that their peace had been disturbed by the award winning novelist.

In general, Mabrizi has prayed for declarations that Dr Singiza and security officers acted unlawfully, that their actions violated Kakwenza’s rights as provided for under the EAC treaty to which Uganda is a signatory, and infringed on the fundamental and operational principles of democracy, rule of law, accountability and transparency.

The Attorney General, who is the only respondent in the application, is expected to file his defence in the application in coming weeks. The government legal advisor has been given 45 days within which to respond. Thereafter, the Arusha-based temple of justice will set hearing dates.(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us atmulengera2040@gmail.com).

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