Nicholas Opiyo, one of Uganda’s best-known human rights lawyers, has been charged with money laundering.
Opiyo, known for representing LGBTQ + people, appeared before judges in Kampala on Thursday and was held in custody until December 28.
The case was referred to the anti-corruption court.
It is believed that Opiyo, executive director of Chapter Four Uganda rights group, withdrew US $ 340,000 (£ 252,000) from the organization’s account on October 8, “knowing at the time of receipt that the funds referred to were proceeds acts of criminal offenses “.
Opiyo was unable to raise any objection as the court did not have jurisdiction to handle the case. He was remanded in custody in a prison about 50 km from Kampala.
In a statement, the Chapter Four Uganda Board said, “We strongly believe that these are frivolous and fabricated charges and [it’s] Another civil space closure demonstration in Uganda. His lawyers are ready to defend him in court. “
Chapter 4 added, “We are closely monitoring his detention situation to make sure he is safe.”
The 37-year-old was arrested by plainclothes security and finance officials in a restaurant in the capital Kampala on Tuesday. He was arrested by Bobi Wine along with three other lawyers – Herbert Dakasi, Anthony Odur and Esomu Obure – and Hamid Tenywa, a human rights officer for the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP).
The other four were released on police bond Thursday and will have to reappear before a special investigative unit on December 29th.
“We strongly condemn the malicious and fabricated charges aimed at restricting the work of civil society organizations, legal practitioners and human rights defenders,” said Sarah Kihika Kasande, director of the International Center for Transitional Justice.
The Partners for Democracy and Governance Group, a block of 14 delegations including the US and the EU, on Wednesday expressed “concern” about Opiyo’s arrest.
“Human rights defenders play an important role in every country and should be able to work wherever they are without fear of arrest or reprisals,” said a joint statement.
Opiyo received the Alison Des Forges Award for Outstanding Activism in 2015.