A high court in Uganda has ordered security forces to end the de facto house arrest of opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, calling it unlawful and a violation of his rights.
Uganda’s high court on Monday ruled the security presence at the home of National Unity Platform party leader Bobi Wine since January 14 was unlawful.
Deputy Court Registrar Jameson Karemani read the ruling, which said the detention of Wine and his family was a violation of their rights.
“It has been established that his right to personal liberty has been infringed. Having found, as I do that the restrictions imposed on the applicant are unlawful, it is hereby ordered that they are lifted. Consequently, an order for restoration of the personal liberty of the applicant is hereby issued,” said Karemani.
Uganda’s state prosecutors had argued that the movement of Wine’s wife Barbara Itungo was not restricted, which the court found untrue.
The state also argued the security forces were at Wine’s home for his own protection, a claim that Wine’s supporters dismissed as a cynical ploy.
The court ruled that if there is a case against Wine, he should be produced before the court.
Wine’s lawyers led by George Musisi applauded the ruling and said they hoped that the state would comply.
“We are glad that court has emphasized the constitutional freedoms by saying that the restrictions on personal freedom are so important that if you are to restrain someone’s freedom, especially if you’re saying that you have grave allegations against them like they are alleging, they should be taken to court and charged," he said.
Army spokesperson Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso said security forces would respect the court’s decision but indicated they might not withdraw immediately.
“That is something we will all have to wait for and that will depend on how the security chiefs determine to do the withdrawal process. To really call upon the other side, that really you need to keep law. We really need to do less of those things that seemingly cause insecurity. The provocations, the chaos that sometimes cause unnecessary anxiety,” she said.
Ugandan security forces surrounded Wine’s home as voters went to the polls January 14 to elect a president.
After Wine declared the election a fraud and himself the president-elect, security forces moved in on his house and prevented anyone from leaving or visiting — including family.
Wine’s brother Fred Sentamu said they were looking forward to his release.
“My brother Robert Kyagulanyi didn’t commit any crime in standing for presidency of the country. Whoever stands against president [Museveni] becomes a criminal. This means there’s no democracy at all in our country. He has suffered, psychologically. Physically, he’s growing thin,” he said.
Uganda’s electoral commission said 76-year-old President Yoweri Museveni was elected to a sixth term with 58 percent of the vote, which Wine maintains was engineered by fraud.
Uganda’s Electoral Commission said it was investigating videos circulating on social media showing people allegedly ticking ballots and stuffing ballot boxes.
The U.S. State Department declined to congratulate Museveni and said it remain concerned by reports of election irregularities and politically motivated arrests.
Museveni called the election Uganda’s fairest ever vote.