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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press release on the dismissal of charges against the human rights defender Mr. Justus Orishaba Bagamuhunda


The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Ms. Reine Alapini Gansou, welcomes the decision of the Magistrate Court in Kabale/Uganda to dismiss charges in a case against human rights defender, Mr. Justus Orishaba Bagamuhunda.

Mr. Justus Orishaba Bagamuhunda is the Executive Director of the National Foundation for Democracy and Human Rights in Uganda (NAFODU). He is also the Managing Director of Freedom Radio 94.7 FM, a community-based radio station operated by NAFODU to promote peace, good governance and share information on development issues in Uganda.

It was reported to us that on 24 November 2015, the Magistrate Court in Kabale dismissed the charges against the human rights defender, on the basis that it had no jurisdiction on labour-related matters, as these should be handled by the Industrial Court. Mr. Justus Orishaba Bagamuhunda had been charged with insubordination and violation of the labour law on 4 August 2015.

In July 2015, Mr. Justus Orishaba Bagamuhunda had appeared before the Kabale police station five times, after receiving a police summons in connection to allegations of withholding of an employee's salary.

Information brought to our attention indicates that this is not the first time Justus Orishaba Bagamuhunda is targeted as a result of his work with Freedom Radio 94.7 FM. Earlier this year, government officials apparently urged him to cancel the “Uganda Today” show because of its “anti-government” stance.

 

The Special Rapporteur commends the Government of the Republic of Uganda for this act which demonstrates its willingness to render justice to human rights defenders in all circumstances.

 

The Special Rapporteur would also like to avail itself of this opportunity to urge Ugandan authorities to pursue efforts towards the establishment of a society which adheres to human rights principles as prescribed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Grand Bay and Kigali declarations as well as other international legal instruments ratified by the Republic of Uganda.

 

Done in Banjul, on 1 December 2015

Ms. Reine Alapini-Gansou

Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa