EU to Uganda: Drop charges against Bobi Wine

The Ugandan government is increasingly getting under more pressure from the donor community over last month’s brutal arrest, torture and detention of Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi popularly known as Bobi Wine.

The European Parliament is the latest on the growing list of western powers to criticize the government’s action against its political opponents.

In its statement dated September 13, the European Parliament is demanding that government drops “the trumped up” charges against Bobi Wine and also stop what they referred to as a crackdown opposition politicians and supporters.

European Parliament is an institution of the European Union, one of Uganda’s biggest funders and development partners.

In the statement, the parliament also called for an investigation into the murder of Yasin Kawuma, Bobi Wine’s driver who was shot dead on August 13, the day Bobi Wine and 32 others were arrested for allegedly stoning President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy.

“The European Parliament urges the Ugandan Authorities to immediately launch an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killing of Yasin Kawuma; and the reports of deaths and excessive use of force during the protest,” the statement partly reads.

It further demanded a swift and independent investigation into the allegations of torture and mistreatment of those arrested in Arua.

A number of suspects that were arrested alongside Bobi Wine were severely beaten. Apart from the singer MP who is steadily recovering from the injuring in the US where he went for treatment, his Mityana Municipality counterpart Francis Zaake Butebi is still fighting for his life at Manipal hospital in India while Night Asara and Ashraf Atiku are nursing serious injuries including broken limbs and spinal
codes at Mengo hospital in Kampala.

EU Parliament further condemned the manhandling of journalists since the Arua Municipality by election. Journalists have suffered security brutality since August 13 in Arua and the resultant #FreeBobiWine protests that were witnessed in and around Kampala.

Affected journalists were Herbert Zziwa of NTV who among others was beaten and arrested by security operatives when he was reporting live the killing of Yasin Kawuma.

Others are Joshua Mujunga of NBS TV, Juma Kirya of NTV and Reuters’ photojournalist James Akena who were beaten during free Bobi Wine protests in Kampala.

“The European parliament ‘notes with concern that journalists covering the demonstrations and the riots that broke out have been beaten along with participants, and that two journalists were arrested. [It] calls on the Ugandan authorities to create an environment where journalists carry out without hindrance their work of informing about political developments in the country,” the statement further reads.

The Parliament reminded the Ugandan government of its obligation to guarantee, protect and promote fundamental rights as well as its international obligations in particular concerning respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law and the handling of court cases especially with regard to the right to a fair and impartial
trial.

Uganda is a signatory to several international laws that provide for freedoms of expression, human rights, democracy and good governance.

Such laws include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966.

“The European Parliament urges the law enforcement bodies to protectbasic freedoms without any form of intimidation, thereby complying with Article 24 of the Ugandan Constitution, which stipulates that ‘no person shall be subject to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the statement reads.