Monday, November 6, 2017

Why is this case being tried in military court?

Uganda is at it again. Police officers, a foreign military retiree and another foreign civilian are to be tried by court-martial, according to this article by Sulaiman Kakaire in The Observer. Excerpt:
Last week, Okoth Ochola, the deputy inspector general of police, surrendered two senior police officers and seven lower-ranking personnel to CMI [Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence]. They were later on charged with kidnapping and being in illegal possession of firearms contrary to the UPDF Act.

Those charged include; the commandant of Police Professional Standards Unit, Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma; Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Agasirwe, former commander of Police Special Operations; Sgt Abel Tumukunde of the Flying Squad, Assistant Superintendent of Police James Magada from Crime Intelligence; Faisal Katende under the Flying Squad and Amon Kwarisima.

Civilians charged were Rene Rutagungira, a retired soldier in the Rwandese military, and Bahati Mugenga Irunga, a Congolese national.

The accused are alleged to have kidnapped and forcefully repatriated Lt Joel Mutabazi, a former bodyguard of Rwandan president Paul Kagame, who had been granted political asylum in Uganda. Mutabazi and Jackson Kalemera were among several other refugees repatriated back home where they faced threats to their lives.
A constitutional challenge is being prepared.

Part VI of Uganda's Police Act 1994 establishes police disciplinary courts with jurisdiction over  police officials. Under s. 49, their proceedings do not preempt normal criminal prosecution.

Human rights jurisprudence strongly disfavors the trial of civilians by court-martial.

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