- International Human rights body has urged the Ugandan government to urgently charge or release five detainees reportedly held by military intelligence, the Joint Anti-terrorism Task Force (JATT).
According to Human Rights Watch, lawyers for the detainees' families and friends filed petitions for a habeas corpus with the High Court in Kampala on 17 July seeking to compel the government to justify the legal basis for the continued detention.
The right to habeas corpus, provided under article 23(9) of the Ugandan Constitution, is a fundamental protection for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary detention.
It said the five have been held without access to a lawyer or family and have never been before a magistrate or charged with any crime throughout their prolonged detention.
“The government's refusal to reveal the physical whereabouts of the detainees makes these cases of enforced disappearance under international law,” Human Rights Watch said.
Africa director at Human Rights Watch, Georgette Gagnon, said the government should bring charges to the detainees saying indefinite detention violates both Uganda's own laws and its international obligations.
Human Rights Watch has reportedly exchanged letters with the chief of military intelligence in November 2008. Some of the responses received from the military intelligence was that some of the detained were allegedly planning terrorist attacks.
“Military intelligence said all three were being held pending prosecution, but to date no charges have been filed in any of these cases,” it said.
In response to allegations of abuse made by Human Rights Watch in April’s report, the spokesman for the Ugandan military denied that the military routinely tortures suspects.
An injunction of habeas corpus issued by a judge or other judicial officer normally requires the authorities to produce the person in court and explain the legal basis for the detention.
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