Free Nicholas Opiyo

On Tuesday, Ugandan officials unjustly arrested celebrated human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo. In violation of Ugandan law as well as both international and African human rights law, the LGBTI+ rights and civil liberties advocate is now being dangerously and unjustifiably detained along with several other human rights lawyers including a member of the Ugandan opposition party.

On Wednesday, the US Embassy took action, issuing a joint statement voicing concern and demanding the immediate release of the four detainees. Voicing concern for the four lawyers and support for due process, the statement was the result of collaboration between members of the Partners for Democracy and Global Governance Group: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK, USA, and the EU. 

We’re heartened by their swift action and specifically the US Embassy’s coordination with other embassies. In collaborating with the PDG, the US has taken a necessary stance to protect human rights advocates. The PDG’s statement amplified a chorus of human rights defenders — from the board of Opiyo’s nonprofit Chapter Four Uganda and Ugandan Law Society to the International Centre for Transnational Justice and Human Rights Watch — and affirmed our coalition’s efforts on behalf of all marginalized people. Notably, the statement explicitly names a human rights lawyer best known for defending the LGBTI community, a promising sign at a time when our rights are under attack globally. 

“Nicholas Opiyo is a fearless defender of human rights. His bold, unapologetic conviction and tireless work towards upholding and defending the constitutionally guaranteed rights for all is what the country needs. We must fight against any efforts to crucify him on the altar of evolving political circumstances because wherever human beings exist – so will inalienable human rights.”

Angelo Izama, Board Member of Chapter Four Uganda where Nicholas Opiyo serves as Executive Director

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