Uganda drops money laundering charges against Nicholas Opiyo
15 september 2021

Uganda drops money laundering charges against Nicholas Opiyo


Lawyers for Lawyers welcomes the news that the charges against lawyer and human rights defender Nicholas Opiyo were dropped on Monday 13 September 2021. Lawyers for Lawyers has previously issued a joint statement on Mr Opiyo’s behalf in January 2021.

Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director of Chapter Four Uganda, a civil rights charity working to defend human rights and civil liberties, was arbitrarily arrested on 22 December 2020. At the time, he was not informed of the reason for his arrest and effectively held in incommunicado detention for a prolonged period. Mr. Opiyo was later charged under section 3 (c) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act on allegations that he acquired USD 340,000 through the bank account of Chapter Four Uganda, knowing that “the said funds were proceeds of crime”. Chapter Four Uganda have confirmed that these funds are legitimate donor funds for lawful purposes.

Reportedly, Mr Opiyo had through his lawyers complained about the length of the ongoing investigations into his case by the prosecutors’ office. On Monday 13 September 2021 the State dropped the charges against him, ending a nine-month legal battle.

While Lawyers for Lawyers welcomes the decision to drop the spurious money laundering charges against Mr. Opiyo, the situation for lawyers in Uganda remains perilous. Recently, Lawyers for Lawyers received worrying reports that Chapter Four, the organization Mr. Opiyo works for, has been suspended by Uganda’s NGO Bureau.

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