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Lawyers offer free services to family of drowned hawker

The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and a human rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi have expressed willingness to offer legal assistance to the family of Olivia Basemera.

Basemera, 38, drowned in Nakivubo channel a week ago while fleeing from Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) law enforcement officers, who were conducting operations against hawkers in the central business district (CBD).

The incident triggered outrage among vendors, boda boda riders and the general public who carried her body to City Hall, the headquarters of KCCA, accusing the authority of causing her death.

As a result, four law enforcement officers were charged with manslaughter before Nakawa chief magistrate Lillian Bucyana. Those charged include Tito Kigiro, Eria Wasswa, Moses Tebyasa and Farouk Mpiima. 

Basemera drowned in Nakivubo channel. Photo: nakandiblog.wordpress.com

FIDA senior legal counsel Annette Badda says the case presents a dilemma in the event that the prosecutors represented by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the defendant, KCCA are government institutions.

Badda told URN that FIDA will meet the family of the deceased hawker on Monday to discuss modalities of the case adding that the criminal case isn't the only angle that will be pursued in Basemera's drowning.

In a civil case, she says, the family of Basemera will be better placed because they can have their private lawyers.   

"The family should not lose hope. The essence of justice should be awakened", said Badda.

In a statement issued earlier, FIDA demanded that "KCCA expeditiously compensates Basemera's family in recognition of the principle that the institution takes responsibility for the acts of its staff. FIDA also demanded that KCCA supports the justice actors currently pursuing the case against their law enforcement staff until its logical conclusion.

FIDA also asked KCCA to conduct a gender and human rights audit of its policies and implementation and ensure that its actions don't amount to discrimination and marginalization.

Lawyer Rwakafuzi told URN that his office is open for the family if they needed additional assistance.

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