On December 16th, soon after attending a court hearing related to the evictions in the Mubende district in 2001, Mr. Baleke Kayiira Peter, speaker for the plaintiffs, was detained without an arrest warrant.
According to Mr. Baleke Kayiira, he was surrounded and detained by several individuals in plain clothes. At the moment of his detention Mr. Baleke was not given any explanation other than he would be brought to Luzira prison in Kampala.
As a spokesman Mr. Baleke has been committed to guarantee that the evictees are fully compensated for the eviction perpetrated illegally by the Ugandan army UPDF in August 2001. The Government of Uganda leased the land of the villagers to Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd., a subsidiary of the German Neumann Kaffee Gruppe.
“The arrest of Baleke Kayiira raises eyebrows. Even if the arrest would not be connected to the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe case, the timing and circumstances are highly dubious. FIAN International interprets the arrest of Mr. Baleke Kayiira as an act of intimidation and is very concerned about his safety,” comments Valentin Hategekimana, Africa Coordinator at FIAN International.
The State of Uganda has human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights particularly in the article 9.1-2 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights article 6 to ensure Baleke Kayiira’ rights to liberty and security. In this regard, Baleke Kayiira should not be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.
According to the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, the EU diplomats in Uganda also have obligations to advocate for detained human rights defenders such as Baleke Kayiira and visit him in prison and attend his trial in case he is brought to court.
Mr. Baleke Kayiira is also one the five plaintiffs in the Civil Suit No 2563 of 2016 (former No 179 of 2002) Baleke Kayiira V. Attorney General of Uganda and Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd.. This is the case of a brutal forced eviction of approximately 4000 people from their land in the district of Mubende. The land has been given to Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd., a 100% subsidiary of the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) based in Hamburg/Germany. Since August 2002, the evictees sued the Government of Uganda and Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd.
More than 18 years after the illegal eviction, no justice has been provided to the evictees who have suffered from a wide range of human rights violations.
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To read FIAN´s latest report about the case click here