Exclusive conference coverage from openDemocracy 50.50: Brigid Inder writes A tribute to Joan Kagezi: The murder of a human rights defender for our Defending the Defenders conference.
On 30 March, at around 7.30pm, Joan Kagezi, Senior Principal State Attorney in Uganda, was murdered by unidentified assailants, who opened fire on her while she was driving home from work.
In the most ordinary of circumstances, Joan had stopped at a fruit stall on her way home when she was shot twice by gunmen on a motorcycle. Three of her four children were in the car with Joan at the time of the attack and witnessed the brutal murder of their mother.
Joan was head of the Directorate of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) war crimes and anti-terrorism division and in this capacity she was, at the time of her death, the lead Prosecutor in a high profile terrorism case, involving suspects in the 2010 terrorist bombings in Kampala. The case was strong and Joan was formidable.
Just a few days before her death, Joan had shared with a colleague that she had not liked the way one of the accused in the case was staring at her during a recent court session. She said she felt that he was looking at her in a menacing way and it made her feel uncomfortable. Earlier in the case she had asked the presiding judge to not allow the accused to sit in the public gallery but rather to have them seated together within the Court room. The Judge had refused her request stating that it would injure the health of the accused to do so.
openDemocracy 50.50 has been covering the Nobel Women’s Initiative biennial conferences since 2007 in articles written by participants and openDemocracy’s own authors. Visit their website for more coverage of our 2015 International Conference: Defending the Defenders.