Kakwenza Rukirabashaija

Uganda Prisons Service has replied to human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo in response to the torture claims of Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija while in prison.

Kakwenza was arrested from his home in Kisasi on 29th December 2021 after a twitter feud with supporters of UPDF Land forces commander Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Kakwenza averred that Muhoozi’s supporters were allegedly bullying him for criticizing President Yoweri Museveni.

On Wednesday, the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) confirmed that Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was subjected to torture.

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“Yesterday, UHRC visited Kakwenza Rukirabashaija at Kitalya Government Prison. The team from UHRC interacted with him extensively and noted the visible scars & injuries on his body that were healing. We look forward to a judicial resolution of his matter,” the Commission confirmed on their twitter account.

Human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo has questioned the decision by Uganda Prisons and asked why they admitted Kakwenza to a prison facility when the law prohibits the admission of a person severely tortured.

“If the Daily Monitor story is accurate, why then did Uganda Prisons admit Kakwenza to a prison facility when the law prohibits the admission of a person severely tortured? Was it that they considered his torture not severe?” Nicholas Opiyo said.

In response, the Prisons Service said: “Healing scars cannot prevent you from being admitted in Prison. In fact worst Healing scars/wounds are borne by suspects that have been subjected to mob justice.

“Healing scars are usually sustained from; mob justice, accidents, protracted arrest and or torture.

“A person who is badly tortured, unable to walk, unable to feed himself or bathe himself is admitted to Prison Hospital. In case of Kakwenza, the healing scars weren’t serious. That’s why his vitals are very normal.

“Nothing on Kakwenza is life threatening,” the Service said.

Kakwenza was charged with two counts of offensive communication, contrary to Section 25 of the computer misuse act 2011. The Lawyer pleaded not guilty and subsequently remanded to Kitalya prison till 21st January 2022.

Prosecution averred that Kakwenza on 24th December 2021 in the Kampala District, willfully and repeatedly used his Twitter handle to commit cases of offensive communication against the President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the first son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, with no purpose of legitimate communication.

Rukirabashaija is the author of the novel The Greedy Barbarian, which takes on themes of high-level corruption in a fictional country. He was arrested on 13 April 2020 in Uganda, and held for seven days, during which time he was interrogated about his fiction and subjected to torture and later released. Rukirabashaija details this treatment in his latest work Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous.