WASHINGTON — Bobi Wine international lawyer Robert Amsterdam has warned Ugandan authorities on the arrest off his client MP Robert Kyagulanyi, saying it represents a dangerous escalation of human rights violations.
The outspoken lawyer Amsterdam who said he would give an update on the youthful MP’s arrest made the comments through a twitter post after his client Bobi Wine was detained at Naggalama Police Station on Monday as he sought to kick off public meetings before an election next year.
“Our client Bobi Wine and others have been arrested without reason by Uganda security forces and are being held at Naggalama police station amid reports of violent crackdowns against protesters. We denounce this violation of basic rights and will update on the situation soon,” he wrote.
Bobi Wine, who is the leader of People Power was scheduled to begin on Monday a week-long series of consultations ahead of the 2021 presidential poll.
Police however blocked him from holding his first consultative meeting and ordered tent and music service providers off the place arguing the grounds are open and consultations should be in closed spaces.
Police later increased the deployment and closed off all roads to the venue.
The Police backed by armoured cars and water cannon used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
“We are temporarily holding them in our police station in Kasangati. We shall have to release them at some later stage but we are looking at charges of holding an unlawful assembly and disobedience of lawful orders,” said Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga.
Enanga said Bobi Wine was planning an illegal public assembly before Police transferred him to Naggalama police station, about 30km east of the capital.
News of Bobi Wine’s transfer to Naggalama was confirmed by a handler of his Twitter account, who said the youthful legislator had been ‘driven to Naggalama at breakneck speed’.
“Afraid of the growing protests in Kasangati, police is driving Bobi [Wine] & other leaders at breakneck speed to Naggalama. #Telikuzikiza”
Under the 2000 election law, presidential “aspirants” may carry out “nationwide consultation” in the 12 months before their official nomination as candidates.
The law requires aspirants to “introduce” themselves to the Electoral Commission (EC) and notify local authorities of events planned in their area.
On December 3, Bobi Wine sent a letter to the EC, officially introducing himself and outlining his plans, which he published on social media.
In the past, the police have warned opposition politicians that all events must also comply with the Public Order Management Act 2013.
Human Rights Watch has criticised that law as granting the police “wide discretionary powers over the content and management of public meetings”