- HURIPEC is concerned over the lack of prompt, impartial and effective investigations into the extrajudicial killings in-spite of numerous calls for such and the attempts made are stopped by the executive
- In 2016, President Museveni declared the term Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo (a term of no games)
- In 2018, HURIPEC undertook to audit the observance of selected civil and political rights in Uganda and conducted about 400 interviews across the country
Kampala- Over 270 people have been killed from various Ugandan districts, a new research has revealed.
The research that was conducted across the regions in Uganda indicates that there is gross human rights violations, in utter disregard of the law, continue to occur under President Museveni’s fifth term, dubbed Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo, with increasing level of impunity on the perpetrators according to Human Rights and Peace Centre, a department of School of Law Makerere University.
In the report titled Human Rights Violations in Uganda: The abuse of civil and political rights in the era of Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo, Human Rights and Peace Centre, HURIPEC documented over 270 cases of extra judicial killings that occurred across the country between 2016 and 2018.
The killings were as a result of intense physical torture, use of unwarranted, unjustified excessive and lethal force, heavy handedness and indiscriminate shooting at people resulting in death of innocent bystanders including children and students.
“In spite of the international, domestic legal guarantees and political assurances, arbitrary deprivation of life by the State, its organs and agents has happened since February 2016 as a result of unnecessary use of excessive and lethal force during law enforcement operations; intense physical torture with impunity; in total disregard of the principles of absolute necessity, proportionality, precaution; and with malice aforethought,” says the report.
Speaking during the launch of the research on Wednesday in Kampala, the Director Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) School of Law – Makerere University, Dr Zahara Nampewo, said most of the deaths happened in hands of Uganda Police Force, Uganda People’s Defence Forces and Uganda Wildlife Authority during law enforcement operations.
The UPDF’s Fisheries Protection Force (FPF), established by the president to curb illegal fishing in Uganda, and is held responsible for the death of nine people between June 2017 and August 2018 as result of intense physical torture.
“The situation in Uganda today is less stark than the said dark days of former president Iddi Amin. But the situation is far from great and there remains work to be done in ensuring respect for civil and political rights in Uganda. We have not yet done all we can do to breathe life into our constitution that protects the sanctity of human life and dignity, and all the various freedoms.’’
Similarly in Arua district, the driver, Yasin Kawuma, for Kyadondo East MP, was killed last year by security forces during the Arua unicipality By-election. Several politicians including Robert Kyagulanyi, other MPs and supporters of Kassiano Wadri were tortured by the forces.
The report cites the warning of the FPF commander at the beginning of the operations that “this is a total military operation … but we warn that when you hear of death of somebody, do not blame us.”
The report talks of a father who lost a son in Namayingo district as result of intense physical torture by the UPDF-FPF in August 2018. He says his son Reuben Bwire was subjected to 50 strokes of the cane three times a day and by the time he was released from detention his condition had deteriorate and later passed on.
President Yoweri Museveni who announced the Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo. Photos by Felix
HURIPEC further reveals that UPF was responsible for death of more than 60 people including children, students and political enthusiasts especially during by election and political rallies.
It also states UWA rangers were responsible for 27 extrajudicial killings in March 2016 and December 2018 in not even a handful of villages neighboring three national parks and one game reserve in which HURIPEC conducted its research. “UWA’s law enforcement rangers killed people under circumstances which did not warrant use of lethal force,” the report notes.
“The study found a number of lapses in the investigation of extrajudicial killings which is worrying. What happened to the Kasese deaths for example? The question draws a blank,” Dr Zahara said in reference to what happened to attack on the Rwenzururu kingdom palace in November 2016.
The reports say wives and children of suspects have not spared. Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and police as the main culprits. The report lists a number of victims who spoke of harrowing experiences while in detention.
“A disturbing finding was that arbitrary arrest and detention of children by security agencies was on the rise. This happened mainly among the Muslim communities who were alleged to be involved in child trafficking and radicalization,” HRIPEC noted in the report.
The department of school of law, also noted that court orders, especially requiring the release of suspects detained beyond the 48 hours, are being ignored by the security agencies.
The report reveals that the people right to a fair hearing, freedom of assembly and to practice the religion and culture of their choice continue to be abused in Kisanja hakuna Muchezo.
The report says security agencies in Uganda had variously targeted a section of Muslims in Uganda known as the Salaf whom they portrayed as a threat to the people of Uganda. On a number of occasions, different members of the Salaf sect were cited as the first suspects and many were always arrested in the immediate aftermath of murders of prominent persons in the country.
Children of Salaf members were also arrested and detained without due process of the law providing for protection of children.