KAMPALA, UGANDA: Exiled novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has petitioned the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) over what he has termed the unprofessional conduct of justice Dr Douglas Singiza.
Singiza, who was recently appointed by President Yoweri Museveni as acting justice of the High court, was the presiding officer during Kakwenza’s controversial case trial at Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court earlier this year.
Kakwenza was first presented before Singiza on January 11, 2022 and charged with disturbing the peace of the president and offensive communication against Museveni’s son, also commander of land forces Lt. Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Kakwenza was accused of insulting Museveni and Kainerugaba through messages posted on his Twitter page.
Kakwenza says that prior to being presented before court, he was abducted from his home in Kisaasi on December 28, 2021 by 20 men dressed in both civilian and army wear, who beat him with gun butts, punched and kicked him and also confiscated his phone. He adds that they blindfolded him and took him to the Special Forces Command (SFC) dungeons in Entebbe where he was illegal detained for 14 days and tortured.
His lawyers led by Eron Kiiza applied before court for his production, and on January 4, 2022, Her worship Irene Nambatya of the Chief Magistrate’s court of Makindye ruled that Kakwenza’s incommunicado detention was illegal and ordered for his unconditional release. Security didn’t release Kakwenza, but rather produced him before another court on January 11 when he appeared before Singiza.
“Her ruling was stamped with a respected judiciary seal and an edict to every security officer to comply in respect of the independence of the judiciary. The order was looked at with repulsive and disgusting eyes, a desecration of the power of the judiciary in enforcement of human rights,” he wrote.
Kakwenza says he was “smuggled” into court without the knowledge of his lawyer Kiiza “whose office is a stone throw away from the court premises” and yet the court declined to grant him permission to contact his lawyer. He says he was in court well before the official opening time at 9.00 am, alone with Singiza and two prosecutors while at the entrance, waited armed men who previously tortured him led by a one Bill Ndyamuhakyi.
“I raised the issue to the presiding chief magistrate, Dr Singiza Douglas, but he whittled it down,” wrote Kakwenza in his petition.
He adds that at that time, his hands, ankles and joints were swollen while his thighs, buttocks and back, oozed pus due to torture subjected to him during his 14 days of illegal custody with SFC.
“I brought it to the chief magistrate’s attention, who witnessed my tortured condition but shockingly rushed to remand me to Kitalya prison in total disregard of the domestic human rights laws and other regional, continental and international charters that Uganda is signatory to,” wrote Kakwenza.
Later, Kakwenza was granted a cash bail of Shs 500,000 and asked to deposit his passport and gagged from talking about his torture. Again, before he could regain his partial freedom, he was allegedly kidnapped by gunmen from Kitalya prison premises and taken to Makindye Military Police barracks where he was detained for hours before he was taken to his country home in the eastern district of Iganga at 3.30 am.
To Kakwenza, Singiza wasn’t impartial while presiding over this matter and appeared to “have been remote-controlled” by the very people that he says tormented him.
“His actions were against The Uganda Code of Judicial Conduct who he MUST be subservient to as he dispenses justice,” he added.
Kakwenza says that the actions of his tormentors offended the laws of the country and Singiza gave them a judicial platform and best drums for them to dance on the sacredness of the inviolable provisions of the law.
“He not only failed to report my torture as required by law but also condoned and worsened it by remanding me in a visible tortured state contrary to logic and the law.”
He hence asked the Judicial Service Commission to respond quickly, possibly in a week from May 25, 2022, and act accordingly against a judicial officer whose actions he says do not dispense justice but cause great suffering to the victims of gross human rights violations.
A copy of his petition has been received by the registry of the commission, inspector of courts, court of judicature, chief justice of Uganda, ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, chambers of the principal judge, office of the speaker of parliament and Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court.
Currently, Kakwenza is in Germany where he escaped after he had been granted bail. His sureties were made to pay after he escaped. On his petition, he attached a medical report from Nsambya hospital, medical report from The Surgery in Naguru, pictures and videos of his scarred body, and a medical report from the Klinikum der Universität München in Germany.