Johannesburg – The trial of Jamil Alilabaki in Uganda displays the hallmarks of an anti-Muslim witch hunt, in which the tenets of a fair trial appear to be being ignored and, among other breaches, evidence gathered under torture is being used.
The trial is taking place in a country where anti-Muslim hatred has been fanned to extremes by the current government of Yuweri Museveni, who since 1994 has destroyed dozens of mosques, and killed, incarcerated and tortured hundreds of innocent Muslims, including pregnant women, under the guise of the ‘War on Terror’.
To resist this horror, Alilabaki, a Roman Catholic revert to Islam, helped found the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a resistance organisation based in neighbouring DRC. The organisation was quickly declared a ‘terrorist’ group.
Alilabaki is now accused of multiple counts of murder, including the murder of Shia leader Sheikh Abdul Kadir Muwaya in 2015. There have been a string of murders of religious leaders in Uganda, and all of them are allegedly linked to the ADF, despite little concrete evidence being presented to back up these accusations.
CAGE Africa highlights the following issues that have violated the rule of law in his case:
- Alilabaki has consistently declared his innocence and his lawyers have described the charges against him as “erroneous”. Little attention is given to these claims either by the judicial system or the press. As a result, Alilabaki has been treated as guilty from the start, in violation of his rights to be considered innocent until proven otherwise in a fair trial.
- Alilabaki was arrested in Tanzania in 2015 for immigration irregularities. Upon hearing of this, then Inspector of Police in Uganda Kale Kayihura, ordered the torture of several Muslim prisoners, forcing them to admit to belonging to the ADF and to say that Alilabaki ordered them to commit the murders. A small number complied but the vast majority refused.
- Alilabaki was extradited on this flimsy evidence to Uganda from Tanzania in July 2015 illegally, since assurances from Ugandan Attorney-General Frederick Ruhindi that he would undergo a fair trial and that he would not be tortured or tried for political crimes, have already been violated.
- Alilabaki was incarcerated and tortured upon his arrival in Uganda. CAGE Africa has documented testimony that this torture took place at the notorious Luzira Prison and at various police stations around the country. It included hanging a brick on his testicles, hammering a nail into his knee cap, beatings, breaking his teeth, being submerged in water, forced to consume pork and wine, and security officer Francis Olugu tearing out a page from the Holy Quran and wiping his buttocks with it.
Feroze Boda, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:
“The treatment of Jamil Alilabaki reads like a horror story. His case serves to bring to light the utterly inhumane treatment of Muslim political leaders, activists and ordinary people by the Ugandan security services and complicit members of the judiciary and government. This state of play cannot continue.”
“The amount of hype generated around this trial casts Alilabaki as the arch enemy of the Ugandan people, when the evidence linking him to the crimes he is charged of is weak. Despite this, the media and security services have created an environment where they have attempted to turn Muslims against one another, and any reasonable opposing view to Alilabaki’s foregone status as a ‘terrorist’ is drowned out in a tide of anti-Muslim bias.”
“The rule of law and the principles of a fair trial are violated when torture is involved. Evidence gleaned through torture is universally regarded as unacceptable and inadmissible. We call on all right-thinking people in the region to urgently demand an investigation into this case and how it has been conducted, and to demand that the perpetrators of the abuse of Alilabaki and other prisoners be held accountable.”
CC image courtesy of Unsplash – Tamirlan Maratov
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)