Parliament has called for an inquiry into circumstances under which, Olympic weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko was detained upon deportation from Osaka in Japan.
The MPs expressed concern that not only was Ssekitoleko’s detention irregular but his eventual release without preferring any charges against him should as well be questioned.
In a July 29, 2021 plenary sitting, Deputy Speaker, Anita Among directed that the Ministry of Sports should inquire into the matter and present a report in the House.
Ssekitoleko, 20, is a Ugandan athlete who fled pre-Olympics training in Western Japan barely a week after the national team had arrived.
Ssekitoleko was found in hiding in the city of Yokkaichi, 105 miles east of his host town in western Japan.
Ssekitoleko who had not met the Olympic standards, is said to have fled his hotel in Izumisano, leaving a note behind saying that instead of coming back home, he wanted to stay in Japan and work.
Upon deportation however, authorities in Uganda decided to detain him to send a warning to all other athletes to avoid future reoccurrences on account of, ‘humiliating the country’.
Parliament’s decision to call for an inquest into Ssekitoleko’s detention was triggered by Kalunugu West MP, Joseph Ssewungu who demanded that Government explains what the young athlete’s crime was to attract arrest.
“This person was arrested on arrival, somebody who is deported has no offence here and we are wondering if this fellow was given all explanations. Why is he being kept at Jinja road police station?” Ssewungu wondered.
However in response, Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa clarified that Ssekitoleko’s matter had been overtaken by events.
“First of all, Mr. Sekitoleko was released yesterday (28th July 2021). Secondly, the moment you go with a Ugandan delegation and there are Visa conditions for your travel and then you behave contrary to that Visa, get deported, the government of Uganda has to follow up on the case to understand what the issue was,” said Tayebwa.
But Among insisted that, “what you are saying is not convincing, can we have a report from the Minister of Sports and we shall debate on what could have happened.”
Ssekitoleko was released on police bond on the 28th July 2021, after spending several days in police custody upon his return to the country on 23rd July 2021 after being deported from Japan.