Human rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi has said he would offer Jolly Tumuhirwe, the 22-year-old maid captured on video torturing baby legal aid and called on the public to respect her right to innocence till proven guilty or until she pleads so.
“I would gladly try to help her because the world has turned against her. She needs legal counsel the constitution presumes her innocent till guilty despite all that we have seen,” Mr Rwakafuzi said, adding, “It is sad that the jury is now the whole world but she deserves justice. Everybody seems to think they have facts.”
The lawyer, who defended the July 2010 Kampala bomb suspects and came under public attack, also poked holes in the video, shedding doubt on its authenticity and arguing that it leaves a lot to be desired.
“The video leaves a lot to be desired. I wonder how a person weighing 80kg can step on a baby and there is no physical harm on the back. There are several questions to ask around that video,” he said.
Mr Rwakafuzi’s remarks came after more civil society organisations distanced themselves from the maid saying they cannot offer the maid who was remanded to Luzira legal aid due to the nature of her offence.
Federation of Uganda Women Lawyers (FIDA)hairperson Eunice Musiime said, “We condemn in the strongest terms any torture of children. Instead, we are considering supporting the parents to pursue justice. We want to clear the air. There was speculation that FIDA was involved and yet we are not.”
Asked if FIDA, an organisation reputed for extending legal aid to vulnerable women, was playing to the gallery and public sentiment by denying Tumuhirwe legal aid, Ms Musiime said, “Right now our priority is the child we are reaching out to the family.”
Aida Girma, UNICEF Uganda’s Representative too weighed in, condemning the maid’s action. In a press statement, Ms Garma said, “The video of this baby being beaten is shocking. Any such act of abuse and violence against children is completely unacceptable and a violation of every child’s fundamental right to be protected.”
Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) also waved a flag of doom at the maid, saying she should not expect their legal services since she will be a party in a case where the commission has interest.
Speaking to Daily Monitor on Monday, acting UHRC chairperson Agaba Maguru said, “It is important people now realize torture is not only by police men but also individuals, we drafted the anti-torture act and we are happy it is starting to bite hard now. Police is charging her with attempted murder, I don’t think that will succeed, we think they should charge her with torture.”
He added, “I am worried she will not get legal help because of the nature of the case and this public anger. UHRC only gives legal aid in capital offences.”
SOURCE: Daily Monitor