A group of activists from Human Rights Watch were yesterday blocked by Uganda Police from accessing the home of opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye in Kasangati, a Kampala suburb.
“Dr Besigye invited us in our role as human rights defenders to meet with him today and talk about human rights concern, something we do regularly with the government of Uganda and other political actors,” reads a statement jointly signed by Kabumba Busingye of Human Rights and Peace Centre Makerere School of Law, Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch and Anthony Masake of Chapter Four Uganda.
“Police denied us access to Dr.Besigye’s home claiming we were not on his program for today despite an explicit invitation and the presence of his staff to receive us,” the statement further reads.
Dr Besigye has been at his home under police surveillance since Monday 22, and his lawyers, journalists and other acquaintances were also on Monday blocked from accessing the four time presidential challenger of Incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
However, the activists say they remain concerned that ‘Dr Besigye’s legal status as a prisoner in his home has no basis in Ugandan law, constitutes arbitrary detention and violates basic human rights to free expression and association’.
They maintain that even though police promised them that they can have access another day, they dispute that police has a basis on which to assert that authority to control guests to a private residence.
Recently recalled Kampala Metropolitan Commander, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Andrew Felix Kaweesi, said police will limit visitors to Dr Besigye’s home basing on the intelligence they have gathered.
“We shall allow public access to him in a regulatory manner; we don’t want to shift his work place from Kampala to Kasangati as everyones access to him may help him in his plans, ” AIGP Kaweesi said.
Police spokesperson Mr Fred Enanga, however, says that the Constitution gives police power to detain an individual if he threatens public safety.
And, according to Mr Enanga, Besigye plans to create havoc in the city.
Dr Besigye’s daily detentions started on Monday as he planned to walk with his supporters to the Electoral Commission offices in the capital Kampala to demand declaration forms of the presidential elections.
Dr Besigye has rejected the results of the widely criticised election in which he lost to incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who obtained 60.8% against Besigyes 35.4%.
Besigye has been arrested over 5 times in a space of 8 days and every time he tries to leave his house, he is arrested and taken to Nagalama Police Station and detained the whole day and later dropped off to his house in Kasangati at around 10:00pm.
According to the Uganda Constitution, Besigye has 10 days to petition High Court over the presidential elections results from the day the winner is announced. Of these ten days, he has been in police detention for three days.
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party officials and his lawyers say that the continued detention of their flag bearer is a move to frustrate any efforts to file a petition.
“He has only eight days now but he cannot meet his lawyers, he cannot meet his campaign managers and he cannot even meet with party officials, so how can he collect evidence within the remaining days,” Mr Peter Walubiri, one of Besigyes lawyers, was quoted as saying by local media.
Dr Besigye persistent arrests have attracted the attention of international organisations and governments, with the United States and the United Nations raising concern over the matter.