Uganda’s LGBTIQ community has reason to jubilate amidst the COVID-19 hardships as an order for immediate release has this afternoon been issued for the #COSF19. This comes after the DPP withdrew all charges against the nineteen youth.
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), which is the legal representation for the #COSF19 received news of the case dismissal from the Magistrate of Nsagi Court where they had gone for the bail application hearing. The case dismissal and immediate order for release came on day 49 of detention. It should be remembered that the 19 were arrested under the guise of breaking the presidential directives on preventative measures of the spread of COVID-19.
The case hit a snag after HRAPF lawyers were continuously denied access to their clients until last week when the civil division of the High Court granted their request to access the 19 who have been held at Kitalya Prison. Justice Micheal Elobu based the judgement on the un-rebutted evidence of continued denial of access to counsel for the accused persons.
On the morning of 29th March, a shelter for LGBT youth operated by Children of the Sun Foundations (COSF) was raided by residents, and security forces. 23 people found at the shelter were arrested. Two of the 23 were beaten upon arrest, and all the rest were subjected to taunts from the community due to their perceived sexual orientation. They were formally charged with doing ‘a negligent act likely to spread infection of disease’ and ‘disobedience of lawful orders’ contrary to Sections 171 and 117 of the Penal Code Act respectively.