Uganda: Call for Immediate Release of prominent human rights defender- Nicholas Opiyo and two others.

The undersigned organisations strongly condemn the arbitrary arrest of renowned human rights defender Nicholas Opiyo. On 22 December, Opiyo in the company of two other lawyers Odur Anthony and Esomu Simon were arrested at about 4.00pm by plain clothed security agents at Lamaro restaurant in Kamokya suburb, Kampala, and bundled in a vehicle.

The Uganda Police Force in a brief statement confirmed his arrest by a Joint Task team of Security and Financial Intelligence on allegations of money laundering and related malicious acts. It is absurd that the Police force would proceed to arrest him in a highhanded manner, yet investigations are inconclusive. The trio is currently being detained at Kireka Police post.

Nicholas Opiyo is the Executive Director and lead Attorney at Chapter Four Uganda, and a member of the Steering Committee of World Movement for Democracy. He is a frontline activist and an ardent critic of the government’s high-handed acts and omissions that violate universal human rights standards. He is a crusader of human rights both locally and globally and undertakes his rights work peacefully. This is but the latest event in a series of acts of intimidation and neutralisation against Opiyo. On the night of 8 August 2020, his residence was broken into by unknown people and his personal equipment including mobile phones and a laptop taken. Perpetrators of the break-in are yet to be arrested and prosecuted.

Article 23 of Uganda’s Constitution protects personal liberty including in cases of arrest and detention. The Uganda Police Force should therefore respect Opiyo’s rights while in custody by ensuring that he is produced before the Courts of law within the constitutional 48 hours from arrest, has access to his lawyers, next of kin, and medical treatment.

We urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Nicholas Opiyo, Odur Anthony and Esomu Simon if they are not ready to present them before a court of competent jurisdiction within the stipulated 48-hour rule.

For further information please contact Robert Kirenga at [email protected] , or Hassan Shire at [email protected]


Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF)

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project),

Defenders Coalition-Kenya

Ethiopian Human Rights Defenders Center

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD-U)

Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)


Human Rights Defender of the month: Alex Njenga John

Alex Njenga has always believed in egalitarianism both as a principle and as a tool for justice. As a result, he has always been suspicious of, and at times hostile to social prejudices that treat some people as “more equal than others,” – to use a line from George Orwell’s famed political fable, Animal Farm.

Some of the experiences that have shaped his social and political outlook have been personal. As an adolescent in Kenya’s Uasin Gishu County, Alex was stigmatised and denied healthcare after he identified himself as belonging to Kenya’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) community.