“The Ugandan police are no strangers to making arrests in utter disregard for constitutionally-guaranteed rights, but this most recent case is patently absurd,” Amnesty has said.
Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, was responding to the Ugandan police’s announcement that they have arrested 56 people for allegedly holding illegal meetings under the deeply-flawed Public Order Management Act (POMA).
These 56 individuals are guilty of nothing more than attending a peaceful meeting, according to Wanyeki who demanded that they are immediately and unconditionally released.
Wanyeki said the Public Order Management Act is deeply flawed and has previously been used by the police to crack down on the opposition and civil society.
“This latest mass arrest is no exception.”
The police did not specify what these individuals were discussing, but opposition activists say the arrests are linked to ongoing attempts to drop age limits from the constitution and allow President Yoweri Museveni, 72, to run for a sixth term in 2021.
The current age limit to run for president is 75 years.
The Fifty six FDC activists who had been detained at Nalufenya in Jinja District were released at the close of last week when their colleagues led by Ingrid Turinawe, the party mobilisation secretary, camped at the torture facility.
The 57, who included FDC presidential aspirant Patrick Amuriat, the Mbale chairperson Margaret Wokuri Madanda and other party mobilisers, were first detained at Kasangati Police Station before being transferred.