Uganda Prisons spokesperson Frank Baine has confirmed that detained Makerere University research fellow Dr Stella Nyanzi has undergone a medical checkup.
However, one of Nyanzi’s lawyers, Isaac Semakadde, told Journalists by telephone that their team had already written a protest letter to prisons authorities on learning “with great shock” that “some psychiatrists went to interview Nyanzi in prison without court authorization.”
“We have learnt with great shock and embarrassment that the management of Luzira prison, women’s section, had given some strange medical personnel clandestine access to our client ostensibly to conduct an inquiry as to her sanity or other incapacity,” Semakadde said.
Semakadde said they wrote to the commissioner general of Uganda Prisons Services to protest what he called a government action that violates the sub judice rule.
However, Prisons authorities made a quick attempt to allay the lawyers’ fears, insisting in a statement that although Nyanzi had been visited by a medical team, they were not there to assess her mental state.
“Dr Stella Nyanzi underwent the normal medical check-up [that] all other prisoners go through; nothing special,” said the spokesperson of Uganda Prisons, Frank Baine. “We cannot conduct a mental checkup unless court has ordered so.”
When she appeared before Buganda Road Court on Monday where she pleaded not guilty to cyber harassment and offensive communication, prosecution asked that Dr Nyanzi undergoes health checkups to ascertain her psychiatric health.
Baine told NBS TV Wednesday that Nyanzi had undergone mandatory medical checkups and was “okay and calm”.
“We didn’t subject her to medical checkups but it’s a requirement during admission.
There must be a medical checkup to confirm whether the person has any health issues,” Baine said.
“We are not supposed to keep people with contagious diseases and you can’t ascertain their condition without medical checkups. Stella Nyanzi is not the first person to undergo medical examination; doctors checked Dr Besigye and Omusinga Mumber.”
Asked about who conducted the medical tests, Baine said: “We use a team of doctors — for Luzira, we have specialists.”
Earlier, there were complaints from Nyanzi’s lawyers that they were not consulted before a medical test on their client was done.
But Baine said: “We don’t need a court order to do medical checkups. Medical examination is a must during admission.”
On whether Nyanzi could be insane as prosecution had suggested, Baine suggested that no psychiatric disorders had been discovered.
“If the doctors had found a psychiatric problem, she [Nyanzi] wouldn’t be here. We would have informed court.”