15 October 2020
PEN International is alarmed by reports that individuals believed to be operatives of the Uganda security apparatus are subjecting novelist and journalist, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija to unlawful surveillance. PEN is gravely concerned about the physical safety and wellbeing of Rukirabashaija and calls for an immediate stop to the now systematic targeting and malicious use of the law to punish Rukirabashaija for his writing.
Since his release from police custody on a police bond on 21 September 2020, Rukirabashaija has complied with all orders requiring him to appearing before the police at the Special Investigations Unit in Kireka on a weekly basis, 240 kilometres away from his home. He is set to appear before the police again 19 October 2020. The police have indicated in official documents seen by PEN that Rukirabashaija is under investigation for the crime of ‘inciting violence and promoting sectarianism.’ However, he has informed his lawyer that his interrogators focused on his new book Banana, Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous. It not known yet if he will be arraigned in court over the odd charges appearing in the police bond documents.
PEN calls on the authorities of the Republic of Uganda to immediately stop all acts of alleges extrajudicial surveillance against Kakwenza Rukirabashaija and take serious measures to guarantee his personal safety and that of his family. The Uganda Constitution is categorical on the right to privacy, including making edicts for its protection.
We further reiterate our recent call on the Uganda authorities to stop what PEN believes to be misuse of rule of law and judicial harassment to suppress Rukirabashaija’s legitimate freedom of expression, which he has exercised through his writing.
For further background information on Kakwenza Rukirabashaija’s situation and PEN calls to action on his behalf, click here and here. Please add your voice in support of Rukirabashaija’s right to freedom of expression by sending appeals to Ugandan government and state officials listed in the documents.