Rights Commission Asks IGP to Urgently Act on Nambooze’s ‘Unlawful’ Detention

UHRC Chairperson, Meddy Kaggwa (R) visiting MP Betty Nambooze in hospital days ago. (Photo by Kimuli Kigozi)

The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has raised concerns over Police’s violation of rights against Mukono municipality legislator, Betty Nambooze including the failure to allow her specialized medical treatment abroad.

In a letter written to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Okoth Ochola, the rights watchdog asked for “urgent intervention” to ensure that MP Nambooze is released so she can be able to travel to India and receive specialized medical treatment.

The June 21 letter was authored by the UHRC Chairperson, Meddy Kaggwa after he visited Nambooze at Kiruddu hospital where she is currently admitted.

“Apart from the treatment that Hon Nambooze is receiving to mitigate her pain, she has been denied the opportunity to receive specialized medical treatment for her back problem which she is supposed to receive in India,” Kaggwa wrote to IGP Ochola.

This according to UHRC contravenes with Article 23(5)(c) of the constitution which provides that a person shall be allowed access to medical treatment including access to private medical treatment.

“The Commission is concerned that if anything happens to Hon Nambooze as a result of the delay in her medical treatment, it could raise legitimate questions as to how she was treated while she was in Police custody”.

The lengthy letter which also captures a timeline of events and accusations leveled against Police by Nambooze, is also copied to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga as well as Nambooze’s lawyers.

Kaggwa further raised several concerns to the IGP including the 24 hour surveillance that the ailing legislator has been subjected to while in hospital which he (Kaggwa) says violates her privacy as a patient.

“Her hospital room has been transformed into a place of detention with 24 hour surveillance by Police officers,” he said, adding that the opposition politician “has been deprived of her privacy as a patient due to the constant interference by Police officers with her treatment regime”.

Furthermore, the rights watchdog has condemned the detention of the MP beyond the constitutional limitation of 48hours after which any suspect must be produced in court.

Nambooze’s troubles with Police began shortly after the killing of Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga weeks ago. Police summoned the MP after accusing her of offences relating to offensive communication that Nambooze allegedly committed threatening Abiriga.

On June 13, Nambooze was arrested by Police from her home in Mukono and transfered to Jinja Road police station where she was detained. Thereafter, she was transfered to Nagalama detention facility where she recorded a statement.

She was granted Police bond and asked to report back after six days. However, the next day, she was again summoned to Special Investigations Unit in Kireka where she made a statement but was later driven back to Nagalama.

At Nagalama, Nambooze’s health began to deteriorate which put her at the risk of suffering neurogenic shock. Last Saturday, she was taken Kiruddu hospital where she is receiving medical and physiotherapy for pain management.

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