by Sabine Hannakampf
They were disturbing images. It was unimaginable how the “walk of shame” and the subsequent imprisonment affected the victims of a homophobic raid in Uganda at the end of March. 19 of them nevertheless took courage to bring their tormentors to justice.
In early April, we reported the arrest of 23 gay residents of a shelter in Kyengera, a city in near the capital Kampala. On 29 March, Ugandan police stormed the shelter of the LGBTIQ* organisation Children of The Sun Foundation Uganda (Cosf Uganda) on the pretext that the residents had violated COVID-19 orders, and arrested 23 young men.
Led by the Mayor of Kyengera City, the men were driven with truncheons to the nearby police station (“Walk of Shame”) and from there they were transferred to a prison in Kitalya.
Bano okubakwata kidiridde abakulembeze b’ekitundu kino okutemyako poliisi nayo esitukidemu nga bano ebasanze bali mu kikomera ekigambibwa nti mwebabadde basinziira okutigomya abantu #GAMBUUZE Sigala #MuddiiroLyo pic.twitter.com/x5AxGTCGWD
— BBS TEREFAYINA (@bbstvug) March 29, 2020
Torture, abuse, arbitrariness?
In prison, according to lawyers, the men were tortured and harassed by both the prison guards and fellow inmates – the men reported mockery, insults and discrimination, for example in access to sanitary facilities, but also rape, mistreatment and torture such as genital burns and anal examinations. One man who is HIV positive is reported to have been deprived of essential medicines.
Lawyers were denied access to the young Ugandans for over a month and a half. Only after the Supreme Court had ordered them to speak to the prisoners, shortly afterwards the public prosecutor withdrew the charges against the men. After 50 days, the detained men were released on 22 May.
Ugandan officials release nearly two dozen LGBTQ residents of Kampala almost two months after their arrest on bogus COVID-related charges. Sexual Minorities Uganda – SMUG Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum – HRAPF https://t.co/1qXr2xWLip pic.twitter.com/ChFBRmjZzY
— LGBT News World (@LGBTNewsWorld) May 21, 2020
Separation of powers ignored – public servants do not appear in court
Reports of the severe beatings and torture called for the independent non-governmental human rights organisation Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forums (HRAPF). HRAPF’s work aims to ensure equality, non-discrimination and access to justice for the most vulnerable marginalised groups in Uganda.
With the help of HRAPF lawyers, lawsuits have been filed against the young warden Philimon W. of Kitalya prison, and against Hajji Abdul Kiyimba, the Mayor of Kyengera. The warden was accused of torture, Hajji Abdul Kiyimba was accused of beating the men as seen on a video and of being the mastermind behind the “walk of shame” where the bound people had to march to the nearest police station.
Actually the trial should have taken place yesterday. But the accused did not respond to the court’s summons and did not show up for the court hearing.
- uganda-opfer-spaziergang-der-schande-vor-gericht: By: facebook.com/cosf.uganda
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