Al-Amin Kimathi denied bail and remains in Luzira prison in Uganda

December 17, 2010

Human rights defender Al-Amin Kimathi was today denied bail in Uganda on spurious grounds; Reprieve remains extremely concerned for his safety and wellbeing.

Foreign diplomats and representatives from human rights charities attended the bail hearing, where the judge denied the application. Despite the fact that Al-Amin suffers from serious health problems, the court denied bail, claiming that his medical records had been lost. The judge also declared that two individuals who had volunteered to stand surety did not have sufficient identification, although they had brought full identity documentation to court.

Al-Amin Kimathi was therefore remanded in custody at the notorious Luzira jail in Kampala, where he is being held in solitary confinement, in a bare, lice-infested cell, with insufficient food, and only one hour of exercise a day.

Reprieve continues to express serious concerns in relation to Al-Amin Kimathi’s situation. Reprieve investigator Clara Gutteridge was detained by Ugandan officials, and denied access to consular assistance on her way to observe a hearing in Al-Amin’s case at the Kampala High Court last week. Clara was the third human rights activist working on this case to be illegally detained by the Ugandan government.

Clara Gutteridge said: “In his work, Al-Amin Kimathi has been a much-needed beacon to some of the most marginalised and abused people in Africa, and his treatment is a disgraceful indication of the depths to which the Ugandan government will stoop to in order to prevent light being shone on their own illegal practices. Uganda must stop abusing Mr Kimathi, and the Kenyan government must immediately assist in his defence. The international community must not stand by as one of human rights’ most strident defenders is locked away on trumped-up charges by an abusive regime.”

For more information please contact Emma Draper at Reprieve’s Press Office 020 7427 1099.

Notes for editors:

Background on Al-Amin Kimathi:

Al-Amin Kimathi is a human rights worker who has been targeted because he was trying to ensure a fair trial for the individuals who were swept up and abused in the wake of the Kampala bombings in July. He has assisted hundreds of rendition victims, and had been working with Reprieve on a number of cases before his arrest. Mr Kimathi is an outspoken critic of government abuses in the “war on terror” in East Africa. He was detained and badly abused by the Ugandan authorities when he arrived in Uganda in October 2010 to monitor the proceedings of several Kenyan nationals rendered without due process to Uganda in connection with the July bombings.

His name was added to the charge sheet against the bombing suspects, with the prosecution alleging that he had provided money used to rent a safe house for one of the bombers prior to the attacks. However, despite claims that a trial is imminent, the prosecution has refused to disclose any evidence against him, thus foreclosing the possibility of a fair trial, and strengthening the position that he is being held on false, trumped up charges. If convicted of the offences of which he has been accused, Al-Amin Kimathi may face the death penalty.

Background on Reprieve:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 26 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve has also represented a large number of prisoners who have been rendered and abused around the world, and is conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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