A Ugandan court has adjourned to March 2021 a case in which 20 LGBT youths are suing a prisons official and a municipal authority leader over torture and human rights abuses during and after a raid on their homeless shelter in March 2020.
By Joto la Jiwe
Both Hajji Abdul Kiyimba, the mayor of Kyengera muncipality near Kampala, and Philemon Woniala, a prisons officer at Kitalya Prison, are jointly sued by Children of the Sun Foundation in a civil suit. The Kyengera Town Council and William Byaruhanga, the Attorney General of Uganda, are also named in the suit.
On Dec. 9, the case was heard before Justice Micheal Elubu in Kampala. The lawsuit, filed on July 21, accused the two men of acts of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment perpetrated against 20 LGBT youths that were living in a shelter run by the Children of the Sun Foundation (COSF)
Among the four respondents, only the Attorney General was represented at the hearing. The others had been served with legal notice of the hearing date, but did not attend.
Nineteen of the 20 applicants were present in court, ready for the cross examination as had been requested by the Attorney Generalat the previous hearing.
Court noted that Hajji Kiyimba had officially written to the Court to seek adjournment of the case.
The applicants’ counsel objected and asked the court to proceed despite the absences. Justice Elubuin declined. He scheduled the next hearing in the case for March 9, 2021.
The judge agreed to applicants’ request that Kiyimba and Woniala be ordered to pay the costs of the day for their non-appearance.
The counsel for the applicants objected to the Attorney General representing Woniala, arguing that Woniala is being sued on the basis of his personal liability in human rights violations, not for carrying out his official responsibilities. The judge scheduled a ruling on that objection for Jan. 11.
The TAALA Foundation, which provides counseling services to members of the LGBT community, asked to be added to the case as an interested party because they want to give evidence about psycho-social support they have been providing to COSF members. The Attorney General objected and was granted time by the court to file a response to TAALA’s request.
Joto La Jiwe, the author of this article, is a Ugandan correspondent for the African Human Rights Media Network and a member of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association. He writes under a pseudonym