Judge Eldad Muwangushya today adjourned the case against Minister of ethics and Integrity, Hon. Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo and the Attorney General, until 6th July 2012.
The honorable minister on 14th February 2012, armed with police raided and closed down a capacity building workshop which was aimed at equipping skills for gay rights activist, at a hotel in Entebbe. He declared the workshop was null and void and ordered all the participants to leave the hotel immediately. He attempted to arrest the facilitators of the workshop and Kasha Jacqueline, the Executive Director of by Freedom and Roam Uganda and the organizer of the workshop, who fled the hotel premises.
During the court’s proceedings, the government’s files were missing and therefore the defense did not have any evidence in their favor. The judge then gave them up to 2nd July to present the files and the next hearing is set for 6th July 2012.
“I think it is fair of the judge to say that we needed to hear from the attorney general first before proceeding, but it was also contemptuous of the attorney general not to respond given all the time he had to file a response to the suit. The judge however seems to realize the importance of disposing off this case as soon as possible” said Geoffrey Ogwaro, one of the plaintiffs.
“These people have a right of assembly. Why are these workshops being closed not having any data of what is being done there? Why not, if cautious of what is planned in these meetings, send in your spies and see if what they are doing is bad instead of just closing meetings with no good evidence .Some of these cases are a waste of time and resources, we should even try to find out how much is spent on them.” Judge Eldad Muwangushya said.
The plaintiffs, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Frank Mugisha, Pepe Julian Onziema and Geoffrey Ogwaro with the help of their lawyers, sued Hon. Lokodo and the attorney general.
The closure of the workshop by the 2nd respondent Hon. Simon Lokodo was an illegitimate infringement on the rights of freedom of association and assembly which every citizen of Uganda should enjoy as stipulated in article 29 of the constitution of Uganda.
Today’s court case comes only a week after the minister closed down another workshop that was organized by the East and Horn of African Human Rights Defenders Project. The skills building workshop for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights activist at Esella Country Hotel in Najjera, in the outskirts of Kampala, was abruptly closed after the police raided the venue few hours after the workshop, slated for three days had just started. The workshop brought together over 20 Human Rights Defenders from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.