KAMPALA – Justice Musa Ssekaana of the High Court in Kampala has ordered the government to pay Shs10 million to the former FDC president Col Dr Kiiza Besigye as compensation for violating his rights when he was pulled off an aeroplane on October 3, 2016 while at Entebbe Airport and driven to his home in Kasangati through unknown routes.
Justice Ssekaana has concurred with Besigye’s lawyer Ladislous Rwakafuuzi that police ought to have arrested Besigye in a dignified manner and not to grab him by the trousers from the stairs of an aeroplane, given the fact that he is a former presidential candidate who aspired to occupy the highest office of this country.
“The Police knew well in advance that they were to affect the arrest of the plaintiff on arrival. They should have presented written reasons for his arrest at the Airport. This would have avoided the denial made by the plaintiff of the reasons for his arrest,” the judge reasoned.
The judge explained that Besigye’s arrest also portrayed a bad picture of this country for police to effect this crude arrest at an Airport which is a gateway to foreigners who even bring in business.
However, Justice Ssekaana noted that although Besigye’s arrest was effected in a rude manner, it was justified because a big number of his supporters were waiting for him to hold a procession to Kampala which would paralyze economic activities on the Entebbe Highway.
He has supported his reasoning while citing a history of a similar incident in 2011 when Dr. Besigye’s supporters waited for him at the Airport and led a procession which blocked movement of vehicles and activities on the Entebbe Highway.
He, therefore, hailed police for acting quickly to prevent the same occurrence.
The Judge further explained that he cannot fault the police for violating Besigye’s right to free movement and association because he(Besigye ) ought to have put in regard the requirements of the Public Order Management Act including notifying police of when and the venue he wanted to meet his supporters.
Justice Ssekaana also rejected the Shs300 million claim for Besigye as compensation for his violated freedoms and instead awarded him with Shs10m to atone for the embarrassment he was subjected to during the arrest.
Besigye had sued the Civil Aviation Authority accusing it of failing to protect his freedoms and rights since he was grabbed on the stairs of Kenya Airways that had just landed at Entebbe Airport.
But justice Ssekaana has exonerated the authority and held the Attorney General liable for the acts of the Uganda Police Force having realised that it’s the IGP who ordered for Besigye’s arrest, driving through routes he didn’t know up to his home in Kasangati.
However, the judge noted that he did not find any violation of Besigye’s freedom of association, movement and political belief under Article 29.