Activists fear NUP detainees are capitulating after one 'writes' confession

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Activists fear NUP detainees are capitulating after one 'writes' confession
NUP supporters have spent three years in detention

MAKINDYE | One of the 28 Opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) political detainees has pleaded guilty to possession of military stores and treachery.

Asbert Nagwere told the General Court Martial in Makindye that he has "realised his mistake and involvement in the crime" and could have walked free on Monday if the military court had not adjourned the hearing.

"I do hereby plead guilty as per the charges and I've learnt that I shall not involve myself in crime again," he said in a May 20 handwritten letter bearing a thumbprint.

In the letter, Nagwere says he was "looking forward to the court's continued support". He will join Richard Nyombi, Shafik Ngobi, Kenneth Kamanya and Ronald Mayiga, who were released on April 15.

But for Olivia Lutaaya and the other 26 others, the counting of the days has gone from one to 1,113 as of Monday, May 27.

The court martial led by Brigadier-General Robert Freeman Mugabe adjourned Monday's bail hearing, citing red eye infection.

Human rights activists say Nagwere's capitulation raises concerns that the political prisoners have been driven to the end of their resolve.

"The detainees have been telling us how they’re approached to confess to crimes they didn’t commit," said Ms Agather Atuhaire, a lawyer and award winning rights activists who has visited the detainees in prison several times.

Ms Atuhaire, who visited Ms Lutaaya in prison on May 21, claimed that authorities were "forcing false confessions out of these poor people".

"I visited Olivia on Thursday, found her in good spirits considering how devastated she had left the GCM on April 15 when their fifth bail application was rejected," he said.

"It looks like she has resigned herself to her fate. She even thinks it’s not worth it for the lawyers to bother applying for bail again."

NUP said the political prisoners have been on remand at Kitalya and Luzira prisons "where they are enduring political persecution with the military court acting as an enabler of injustice".

Reports say Ms Olivia Lutaaya has given up on justice after five attempts to get bail failed,

The Opposition party said it had sent its welfare team and sureties of the detained suspects to Makindye but that they were denied access to the court martial premises.

"We continue to demand for the release of all our detained and disappeared comrades," the party posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Agora, a digital public square promoting human rights, rublic accountability and social justice, said it was disappointing that the military court had promised a swift resolution when it first charged 32 NUP supporters in 2021.

The civic nonprofit organisation that is led by rights activists Atuhaire, Godwin Toko and Jimmy Spire Ssentongo, among others, said it is "outrageous that they have spent all these years separated from their families."

Mr Toko said the detainees have now "spent about half of Idi Amin’s entire reign in jail".

President Amin ruled Uganda between 1971 and 1979.

The NUP detainees include Yasin Ssekitoleko aka Machete, Robert Christopher Rugumayo, Muhydin Kakooza Sanya, Patrick Mwase, and Abdu Matovu.

Others are Ronald Kijambo, Sharif Kalanzi, Joseph Muwonge, Mesach Kiwanuka, Abdullah Kintu, Umar Emma Kati, and Musa Kavuma.

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