Break-in at offices of Ugandan LGBT ally lawyer Nicholas Opiyo

Unknown people on Thursday, March 18, broke into the offices of Chapter Four Uganda and prominent gay rights ally Nicholas Opiyo, who leads that human rights organization.


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A screen shot of one of the Chapter Four burglars taken from a security camera. (Chapter Four Uganda photo)

By Kikonyogo Kivumbi

In a statement issued March 18 in Kampala, Chapter Four said the assailants accessed the reception area of the office through the window and made off with one office desktop computer.

The break-in was one of many that have targeted non-governmental organizations in Uganda, Chapter Four stated. According to a public statement from the organization:

“In the past few years, over 40 NGO office break-ins have been reported and they largely remain unresolved despite repeated calls for the government to ensure swift and transparent investigations to end the attacks. It is important that all NGO office break-ins be conclusively investigated and the assailants be charged in courts of law.

“Chapter Four extends its appreciation to friends and partners who have expressed solidarity with the organization. We urge the government to take appropriate steps to ensure that human rights defenders and organizations work in free and safe environment.”

 

Nicholas Opiyo, facing camera in an earlier interaction with Ugandan security forces

The full Chapter Four statement on the incident is reproduced verbatim below:

Conduct transparent and conclusive investigations on NGO office break-ins to end attacks 

(March 18, 2021 / Kampala, Uganda) On the morning of Thursday March 18, 2021 at about 04:10 AM, unknown assailants broke into the offices of Chapter Four Uganda in Kololo, Kampala. The assailants accessed the reception area of the office through the window and made off with one office desktop computer.

During the attack, the intruders attempted to access other sections of the office but the security alarm system at the premises which was triggered at 04:38 AM, prompting them to escape.

We have filed a case of office break-in at Jinja Road Police Station and investigations have commenced. The tools that were used to break in to the office have been recovered.

We are also working with our security service provider to review the security incident in addition to our independent assessments for appropriate action. The CCTV camera footage that we have retrieved is aiding the investigations.

We note with concern that this is not an isolated incident. In the past few years, over 40 NGO office break-ins have been reported and they largely remain unresolved despite repeated calls for the government to ensure swift and transparent investigations to end the attacks. It is important that all NGO office break-ins be conclusively investigated and the assailants be charged in courts of law.

Chapter Four extends its appreciation to friends and partners who have expressed solidarity with the organization. We urge the government to take appropriate steps to ensure that human rights defenders and organizations work in free and safe environment.

For further information, please contact:

Phone: +256 790 916 614 / Email: info@chapterfouruganda.org

This image from 2016 came from a security camera that caught the burglars who broke into the offices of the human rights organisation HRAPF Uganda. In the break-in, a security guard was killed. The attackers have never been arrested despite HRAPF providing ample evidence to police. (HRAPF photo)


Kikonyogo Kivumbi, the author of this article, is the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association. Contact him at uhspauganda@gmail.com.

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