Following the raid of an LGBTIQ homeless shelter in Uganda in April resulting in 19 gay men and trans women being jailed for 49 days, damages have been awarded for police violating their rights.
As reported in Gay Nation in May, the director of public prosecutions officially withdrew all charges against the traumatised individuals who’d been refused bail and access to their lawyers for 49 days.
The people ranging in age from 19 to 32 have each been awarded damages of UGX 5,000,000 (about USD 1,340) by the High Court of Uganda ruled that the individuals were deprived of their rights to a fair hearing and liberty.
The authorities claimed that the raid was due to the individuals illegally gathering under the country’s coronavirus lockdown regulations but activists and their lawyers said this was an excuse to target LGBTIQ people.
The court found that the right to a fair hearing could not be waived even during the Covid-19 crisis since the right is “inalienable whatever the circumstances.”
The court further ruled that denying the accused access to their lawyers for 40 days was “unreasonable and unjustifiable.”
The Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and Children of the Sun Foundation (COSF), which ran the homeless shelter, welcomed the decision.
“We applaud the Court for standing with us during this difficult period,” said Henry Mukiibi, the Executive Director of COSF and one of those arrested.
Dr Adrian Jjuuko, Executive Director of HRAPF, commented that “the fact that the judge did not dwell on the accused persons’ sexual orientation but rather addressed their rights as human beings is a breath of fresh air in Uganda’s LGBT rights related jurisprudence.”
Under colonial-era legislation criminalising gay sex in Uganda, those found guilty of homosexuality can face life in prison.
Case_Update: Court has ruled that by denying the COSF-20 access to their lawyers, the State acted in contravention of their right to a fair hearing and liberty as provided by Articles 23 of the Constitution. #FinallyJusticeforCOSF
— hrapf (@hrapf_uganda) June 15, 2020
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