Human Rights activists are pushing for quick judicial trials of suspects, saying every individual has a right to a fair and speedy hearing.
These highlighted the arrests that followed the 2021 general elections pointing out that some of the suspects have not been tried in court to date.
In March, the Minister for Internal Affairs Minister, Gen. Jeje Odongo, named 177 persons under custody in various detention centres, who had by then been declared missing by their relatives as their whereabouts were unknown.
“If the State is arresting people, their relatives have a right to know where they are because we don’t want instances of detention without communication,” Ms. Sekindi Ruth, Director of Monitoring and Inspections at Uganda Human Rights Commission said.
“People have to know where they are being detained and they should be able to reach out to their relatives, families, and friends. They have a right to a fair hearing, and a right to appear in court,” she added.
Ms. Immaculate Owomugisha, Head- Advocacy and Strategic Litigation at Uganda Network on Law, Ethics, and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) emphasized that individuals have a right to a fair and speedy hearing.
“The constitution is very clear. Everyone should have a quick hearing. No one should be taken to prison without their case being heard,” she said.
Adding: “Elections ended way back and now we are in election petitions but up to now, people who were caught up in election violence are still in prison. That’s really unfair and unjust and we shouldn’t just keep quiet about it. We need to condemn this to ensure that they get the justice that they deserve.”
Moses Mulumba, Executive Director of Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) condemned the practice of confining people without trials.
Mulumba told ChimpReports that despite the structural issues that the judiciary could have in trying people, “every person, whether he is a chicken thief or person suspected of being involved in major offenses, are still suspects and their rights need to be respected as much as possible.”
The human rights lawyer further said that covid-19 is a major challenge in achieving speedy trials as people are getting confinements for a long time.
“These days it’s even much more important to have a speedy trial more than ever before because our prison facilities cannot be able to sufficiently accommodate individuals as the numbers exceed what they should be able to deal with,” he said.
“We have also seen cases where people are arrested and tortured. So, their fundamental rights; health, are impacted, and their loved ones don’t know where they are, so orders of the court to have them produced as soon as possible are very important,” he noted.
Mulumba asked lawyers and activists to support the state in ensuring that people have speedy trials.