A magistrate in Uganda has ordered prison authorities to produce 19 members of the LGBT community who have been on remand since March, charged with violating Covid-19 lockdown rules after a raid that focused on their sexuality.
By Kikonyogo Kivumbi
May 18 (next Monday) is the new date when 19 members of Children of the Sun Foundation (CosfUganda) who were arrested at the Cosf shelter are expected to be delivered at Nsangi Magistrate’s Court.
“You’re hereby directed to produce the above mentioned accused in the magistrate’s court of Nsangi on the 18th day of May 2020 at 9 o’clock,” the production warrant addressed to Kitalya Prison states.
In a related development, a high court judge in Kampala on Tuesday heard an application filed by Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) seeking access to the arrested 19 suspects. The judge is to deliver a ruling on the HRAPF request tomorrow (Wednesday ) in Kampala, according to Dr Adrian Jjuuko, the executive director of HRAPF Uganda.
Ms Patricia Kimera, the lawyer representing the accused at Nsangi Magistrates Court, told Erasing 76 Crimes Tuesday in Kampala that she hoped her clients would be brought to court this time round on Monday. As of today, they have been imprisoned on remand for 44 days without trial.
In a statement issued this week, Human Rights Watch has joined several human rights groups calling on Uganda authorities to drop charges against the 19 accused LGBT persons.
About the case
Uganda police on March 29 arrested 23 LGBT Ugandans on charges of enabling the spread of Covid-19 by living together in a homeless shelter. Charges were preferred against 19 of the arrested. Those men are currently remanded at Kitalya Prison.
The March 29 raid by police and army targeted the shelter of Children of the Sun Foundation Uganda (Cosf Uganda), an LGBT organisation on the outskirts of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The LGBT community members were beaten and forced to take a “walk of shame” through the village from their shelter to Nkokonjeru Police Post in Kyengera town council, about 20 minutes’ drive from Kampala City.
Villagers accused the shelter residents of homosexual acts. The villagers, speaking in the Luganda language, told BBS TV that the shelter residents had an “abnormal mannerism.”
Kikonyogo Kivumbi, the author of this article, is the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association.