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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Karen Bass (37th District of California)

December 29, 2020

Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, issued the following statement.

“The Ugandan government must stop unlawfully arresting, detaining, and beating citizens who have opposing views. This action is clearly trying to intimidate Ugandans who oppose the government before the upcoming presidential elections.

“On December 12th, the government arrested international boxer Justin Juuko, a Ugandan citizen and California resident.  Reportedly, Juuko was arrested along with Garrypaul Mayanja, an FDC activist in Masaka, a district in south-central Uganda.  The two were were reportedly conducting training for polling agents ahead of the general election on January 14.  The charges must be investigated, and the government should release Mr. Juuko unharmed at once. 

“Just last week, international human rights activist and attorney Nicholas Opiyo was arrested and is still being unjustly held in custody until January 11th.  Opiyo’s work on human rights has earned him numerous international awards. He founded Chapter Four Uganda, an organization that advocates for legal protections to human rights, provides training and support for other Ugandan human rights law organizations, and coordinates legal responses to civil rights violations.  Mr. Opiyo is being targeted and denied bail for his tireless efforts in advancing human rights and must be released immediately. 

“Both of these men are being detained simply for their human rights advocacy and their right to peacefully challenge the current government.  The Ugandan government must make the safety of all activists and opposition of the current regime a priority. The continued repression of civil society ahead of the upcoming elections cannot be tolerated.

“I urge the Ugandan government to release Mr. Juuko, Mr. Opiyo, and all other activists and opposition leaders at once, listen to the will of the people, and have free and fair presidential elections in January.”