The High Court in Kampala has ordered security forces to vacate former National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu’s home in Magare, Wakiso district where the opposition politician and his family have been held under house arrest since January 14.
Justice Michael Elubu of the High Court’s civil division ruled that the continued indefinite restriction and confinement of the couple at their home is unlawful and therefore infringes on their constitutional right to liberty.
The ruling follows an application filed last week by Kyagulanyi’s lawyers led by Anthony Wameli the head of NUP’s legal department against the security forces’ presence at Magere.
The petition was filed against the Attorney General, the Chief of Defense Forces and the Inspector General of Police, challenging the continued confinement of Kyagulanyi and his wife Barbara Itungo at their home without giving any reasons for their detention.
During this period, the couple has been denied access to their lawyers, visitors , family or doctors.
Kyagulanyi’s lawyers thus asked court to order for the unconditional release of Kyagulanyi from his home where he was being confined, a place they said was not a gazetted place of detention.
But the respondents opposed the application arguing that Kyagulanyi previously flouted COVID-19 guidelines and also vowed to make Uganda ungovernable like Libya Iraq and Sudan.
In an affidavit sworn by the police’s director of operations, Edward Ochom, the security forces kept Kyagulanyi at his home to protect the property of the citizens and for his own good as well.
In his ruling, Justice Elubu dismissed the government’s defense saying that if they(government) had serious allegations against Kyagulanyi they needed to be dealt with by following due process.
According to the Judge, due process here means that if Kyagulanyi had any offense that he had committed, he should have been arreste , taken to police and produced to any Magistrates Court to be charged which has not been the case here.
“Having found as I do, the restrictions imposed on the applicant are unlawful. It is hereby ordered that they are lifted. Consequently, an order for the restoration of the personal liberty of the applicant herby issues”, said Elubu in a ruling read on his behalf by the Civil Division Registrar Jameson Karemani.
The Judge has also noted that due to the increasing numbers of Covid-19 and the the public health necessity, Kyagulanyi needs to comply with Standard operating procedures, once Kyagulanyi’s right to liberty is restored.
The court has also ordered the government to pay Kyagulanyi and his wife costs of the application for the constitutional rights violations caused to them.
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