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CasesLawyers to sue CDF over detention of Rwandan nationals

August 9, 2020

Two lawyers have threatened legal action against the government and the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen David Muhoozi over what they term as illegal detention of a Rwandan businessman Emmanuel Cyemayire.

According to Gawaya Tegulle and Eron Kiiza, Cyemayire was arrested from his house in Mbarara by UPDF soldiers and operatives from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) on January 4.

“The arrest was not only brutal and violent, it was also inhumane, given that his little ones [children] were watching which traumatized them,” Tegulle told journalists on Wednesday.

Cyemayire is the latest Rwandan national living in Uganda to be apprehended by the military over charges related to terrorism and espionage. On December 28 last year, 45 Rwandans were charged for terrorism before Mbarara Grade One magistrate Daphine Ayebale who remanded them to Mbarara Central Prison.

The group had spent over two weeks at Nalufenya detention facility in Jinja following their arrest at Kikagati border point in Isingiro district. As the 45 were being arraigned before court, another group of five Rwandan nationals – Freddy Turatsinze, Jessica Muhongerwa, Vanessa Gasaro, Dianne Kamikazi and Herbert Munyangaju – was being deported.

Their colleague Dianne Kamashazi is allegedly still in CMI custody, according to Tegulle.

“Given recent trends as narrated by previous inmates of CMI detention centres, which are illegal in the first palce, it is highly unlikely that Cyemayire is calm and relaxed, enjoying extreme hospitality at the hands of CMI operatives,” Tegulle said.

Four days after Cyemayire’s arrest, Tegulle and Kiiza filed a Habeas Corpus application before the civil division of the High court in Kampala to compel CMI, the CDF and the Attorney General to produce Cyemayire in court.

Justice Lydia Mugambe granted their application when she issued a writ of Habeas Corpus requiring the government and UPDF to produce the businessman in court on January 16.

“The government and security agencies refused to cooperate even when another writ was issued for the same court the following day [January 17],” Tegulle said.

Subsequently, Mugambe declared Cyemayire’s detention illegal and unconstitutional and, thus, issued a mandatory release order.

“Upon establishing that the continued detention of [Cyemayire] by security agencies is illegal and a violation of his right to liberty guaranteed under the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, I hereby direct that the said Cyemayire Emmanuel be released immediately from detention at CMI or wherever else he [is] detained,” Mugambe’s order reads in part.

The order was served to the attorney general and the CDF on January 19 but both, according to Tegulle, ignored it.

“Everything that we should have done within the law we have done, I don’t know what else they want us to do to secure the release of Cyemayire,” Tegulle said.

Under the circumstances, Kiiza said, they are contemplating to move court to hold the CDF, the director general of CMI and the attorney general liable for contempt of court.

“They are in clear contempt of court since they disrespected the writ of Habeas Corpus and the mandatory release order which was issued by Justice Mugambe. We are, therefore, going to ask court take action on these government officials,” Kiiza said.

Interviewed, UPDF spokesman Brig Richard Karemire said the CDF is wrongly being dragged into the matter.

“Let them [Cyemayire’s lawyers] first study the law establishing the UPDF and know which organ does what,” Karemire said.

He declined to say anything in regard to the detained Rwandan nationals.
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