By Stephen Lwetutte
LONDON-UGANDA/NEWSDAY: It has now been 10 days since Fred Lumbuye was reportedly arrested and led away by plain-clothed men thought to be members of the Turkish security personnel, yet his exact whereabouts are unknown.
With unconfirmed official admission that the Turkish authorities are holding him, but with no details of why, where and in which conditions, the government of Turkey owes the public, the government of Uganda and the international community an explanation.
According to Turkish law, the arrest detention can last up to 24 hours unless a more serious offence is suspected to have been committed, in which case the detention can last up to four days. We are talking of 10 days already. Although under the Turkish law only the lawyer is allowed access to the detainee and not relatives or other persons, it is mandatory to inform the embassy of the detainee in the case of a foreign national (except in cases of some countries where a request must be made for that to happen, which don’t include Uganda) and their relatives, yet the Uganda embassy has denied any knowledge of the detention of Fred Lumbuye.
It is worth noting that the first procedural requirement for arrest according to Turkish law is to take the suspect to be examined by a doctor before and after detention to ascertain their state of health to prevent allegations and actions of torture and ill-treatment while in custody. Furthermore, a lawyer will talk to the detainee in private to ensure they were not subjected to torture, and to inform them about their rights and listens to their complaints before drafting their defence. Also, the detainee has a right to a lawyer and a translator. With information blackout about the state and status of Fred Lumbuye, it is impossible to confirm if this due process has been followed. It is evident, however, that he has been now held much longer without some these safeguards than Turkish law stipulates.
Moreover, as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Rights, Turkey is obligated to ensure that individuals with in its territory enjoy, without discrimination, the right to be presumed innocent, the right not to be arbitrarily arrested or detained, the right to pre-trial release and to be brought to trial within a reasonable time, and the right to a remedy in relation to any violation of these rights.
In the context of the reality surrounding the disappearance of Fred Lumbuye, Turkey must now tell the world what has become of Fred Lumbuye regardless of his whereabouts and circumstances of his disappearance. Uganda would also be expected to discharge it duty and due responsibility of ensuring the safety of its citizens wherever they may be regardless of their political views or persuasion. Fred Lumbuye’s unlawful and illegal detention must be condemned and his release secured.
How he was arrested
Two theories have been fronted on how he went missing. One report says Lumbuye was picked by security men on his way to his apartment after work on August 3 yet other people say he was arrested by officials at the Ugandan embassy in Turkey when he had visited to renew his passport.
August 3 Lumbuye went missing from Turkey.
On August 4, just a day after his disappearance, the Foreign Affairs State Minister Henry Okello Oryem, although not committal on whether actually Lumbuye was in detention, said Ugandans needed to jubilate. Oryem was addressing a press conference at the government-owned Uganda Media Centre in Kampala.
On August 6 a heavy security presence along the roads leading to the Turkish embassy on plot 9 at Prince Charles drive in Kololo was beefed up as Lumbuye’s supporters demanded he is not deported. Read https://newsday.co.ug/2021/08/07/lumbuye-deportation-heavy-deployment-at-turkish-embassy/
Earlier in the day on August 6, the shadow minister for foreign affairs Nkunyingi Muwada had met with the Turkish ambassador in Uganda, Kerem Alp to whom he presented a protest document detailing why the National Unity Platform objected the repatriation of Lumbuye. Also readhttps://newsday.co.ug/2021/08/06/lumbuye-being-brought-back-for-terrorism-charges/
Quoting the ambassador based on the Nkunyingi, Alp meeting a Turkish news website, Daily Saba quoted the ambassador saying his country does not interfere in the affairs of other states and the same policy would prevail over Lumbuye case.
“Turkey does not condone crimes but accords full rights to any person arrested within Turkey, and so will be the case for the said Ugandan,” Kerem told the Daily Saba.
On August 6, Oryem convened another press briefingwhere he said all had been finalized for the repatriation of blogger Fred Lumbuye and that he would arrive in Uganda the following day on August 7 to face charges. He was never seen. Also read: https://newsday.co.ug/2021/08/07/govt-fails-to-extradite-lumbuye-as-planned-despite-booking-him-on-four-flights/
On August 6, Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake on a parliamentary trip arrived in Turkey but on the sidelines of his visit, he started efforts of trying to access Lumbuye and working with other diaspora teams, a Turkish lawyer was approached. This lawyer demanded a down payment of USD 71.000 but he was dropped as he became a subject of suspicion.
Two days later on August 9, police denied they had blogger Fred Lumbuye but indicated he had fifteen cases to answer.
“Whether he is in the country or not yet in the country, our interest as Police is that once he is handed over, we shall process him along the 15 case files that were opened up against him” police spokesperson Fred Enanga said during the weekly press conference at Police Headquarters Naguru.
This week, two Ugandan lawyers including Nkunyingi Muwada and Anthony Wameli arrived in Turkey in an effort to locate Lumbuye.
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