Samuel Ganafa (Source: Facebook)
Ugandan police are illegally detaining a leading LGBT rights activist without an arrest warrant and earlier forced him to have an HIV test.
More details of the incident, first reported by Mambaonline on Wednesday, have now come to light.
On Tuesday, Samuel K Ganafa the Executive Director of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives and Board Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was phoned and asked to call at the Kasangati Police Station.
According to Spectrum Uganda, on his arrival, he was immediately handcuffed by a police officer and was forced into a police truck and twice taken to his residence, which was searched.
The organisation said that the police had neither an arrest warrant nor a search warrant.
During the search, three of Ganafa’s houseguests, Joseph Kayizi, Kasali Brian and Michael Katongole, were also arrested and taken to the police for questioning.
Ganafa’s nephew, Brian Kasirye, who had rushed to the police station to check on him was also detained.
Later, said Spectrum Uganda, the police subjected Ganafa to an HIV test without a court order or his consent.
It was revealed the next day that Ganafa’s arrest was as a result of a complaint by a Disan Twesiga, who alleges that the activist infected him with HIV.
Spectrum Uganda said that on Thursday Twesiga held a press conference at Kasangati Police Station in which the police “paraded Mr. Ganafa before the media”.
“This is despite the fact that he has not been found guilty by a court and is thus presumed innocent under the law,” noted the organisation.
As of the close of day on Thursday, all five suspects remained in custody without being officially charged and without being brought before a court, despite the expiry of the constitutionally warranted 48 hours.
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Spectrum Uganda, the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law said that they are closely following the case, and have instructed lawyers to represent all the accused. An application for the release of the detainees has been filed.
The organisations said in a statement that they “strongly condemn the manner in which Mr. Ganafa was arrested and the manner in which the searches were conducted, his humiliating display before the press, as well as the violation of the 48 hour rule for producing a suspect before court”.
They called on the Ugandan Police to release Ganafa and the four other arrested people or immediately produce them before a court of law, and to respect their basic rights.
“It is worth noting that this is not an isolated case, but it is one of a series of documented arrests targeted against the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons in Uganda,” said the groups. “We therefore call upon the police to STOP the continued intimidation of the entire LGBTI community and the legal representatives of the detained persons.”