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    Court Martial Rejects Bail Pleas for Olivia Lutaaya and other NUP Political Detainees

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    Court Martial Rejects Bail Pleas for Olivia Lutaaya and other NUP Political Detainees
    • April 15, 2024 • 1 month ago
    in summary
    The General Court Martial has refused bail for Olivia Lutaaya and 27 other political detainees linked to Uganda's Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP). This decision, delivered by Brig Gen Robert Mugabe, chairman of the Court Martial in Makindye Military Barracks, has ignited widespread debate and criticism.

    In a contentious ruling, the General Court Martial has denied bail to Olivia Lutaaya and 27 other political detainees associated with the Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party. The decision, announced by Brig Gen Robert Mugabe, chairman of the Court Martial in Makindye Military Barracks, has sparked widespread debate and condemnation.

    Lutaaya, 32, was forcefully apprehended from her residence in Namuwongo, a suburb of Kampala, in 2021. Her subsequent detention without communication for weeks before facing trial in the military court has drawn international attention. Despite calls for her release, Lutaaya's plea for bail was dismissed by the court.

    The rejection of bail has further exacerbated concerns regarding the fairness of the legal process. Robert Kyagulanyi, the NUP president, previously highlighted Lutaaya's plight, citing her as a victim of political persecution.

    "She mobilised for NUP during the 2021 election. For that, she was abducted, beaten up, held incommunicado for weeks, and then arraigned before the military court. She is still in jail," Hon. Kyagulanyi lamented.

    Lutaaya's case underscores a broader crackdown on political dissent in Uganda. Alongside more than 30 others, she faces charges in a military court despite being a civilian, contravening Constitutional Court rulings. Despite the gravity of the charges, supporters argue that the denial of bail undermines fundamental rights and the presumption of innocence.

    The court's decision, while acknowledging the bailable nature of the offenses, cited concerns over the applicants' prolonged custody and the absence of fixed residences within the court's jurisdiction. Additionally, fears of potential flight risk were cited as grounds for denying bail.

    The controversy surrounding bail extends beyond Lutaaya's case. Earlier, four detainees, all male, were granted temporary freedom, raising questions about disparities in the legal treatment of detainees. Ronald Mayiga, Richard Nyombi, Kenneth Kamya, and Shafique Ngobi were released based on the presence of substantial sureties and fixed places of residence.

    However, the prosecution opposed bail for Lutaaya and others, arguing that the provided sureties were insufficient. Brig Mugabe concurred with the prosecution, emphasizing that only applicants meeting stringent requirements were eligible for release.

    Among those denied bail alongside Lutaaya are individuals like Yasin Ssekitoleko alias Machete, Robert Christopher Rugumayo, and others, further deepening concerns about the impartiality of the legal process.

    The denial of bail to Lutaaya and her co-accused underscores the challenges facing Uganda's justice system and raises renewed calls for transparency and adherence to legal standards in handling political detainees.

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