One of Uganda’s most influential human rights lawyers, Nicholas Opiyo, has been arrested for money laundering. Opiyo, known for representing LGBTQ+ people, appeared on Thursday before a judge in Kampala and was taken into custody until Dec. 28. The case was referred to the Court of Anti-Corruption. The Anti-Corruption Court has been assigned to the case. It is alleged that on Oct. 8, Opiyo, executive director of the human rights organisation Chapter Four Uganda, bought $340,000 (252,000 pounds) through the account of the organization, knowing that the said funds were proceeds of crime at the time of receipt. “Uganda arrests leading LGBT advocate for money launderingContinue readingOpiyo was unable to confess because the court lacked the jurisdiction to handle the case. About 50 km (31 miles) from Kampala, he was detained in a jail.
In a statement, the Uganda Board of Chapter Four said, “We strongly believe that these are frivolous and trumped-up charges and [this is]another demonstration of civil space closure in Uganda.” His attorneys are able in court to defend him. “Chapter Four added, “To ensure that he is protected, we are closely monitoring his condition in custody,” he said. “The 37-year-old was detained by plainclothes security and revenue officers at a restaurant in the capital Kampala on Tuesday. He and three other lawyers, Herbert Dakasi, Anthony Odur and Esomu Obure, and Hamid Tenywa, a human rights officer for the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party of Bobi Wine, were arrested. On Thursday, the remaining four were released on bail and are due to appear again on Dec. 29 before a special investigation team. “We strongly condemn the malicious and trumped-up charges aimed at restricting the work of civil society organizations, lawyers, and human rights defenders,”We strongly condemn the malicious and trumped-up charges aimed at restricting the work of civil society organizations, lawyers, and human rights defenders. On Wednesday, the Partners for Democracy and Governance Party, a coalition of 14 delegations including the United States and the EU, expressed “concern” about the arrest of Opiyo. “Human rights defenders play an important role in every country and should be able to work without fear of arrest or reprisal wherever they are,” they said in a joint statement. Opiyo was the 2015 winner of the Outstanding Activism Alison Des Forges Award. On December 28, 2020, this article was updated to more accurately reflect the charges against Nicholas Opiyo, who is accused of obtaining and not withdrawing the funds at issue.