Defense Forces-UPDF soldiers attached to the Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU in
Mayuge and Jinja districts are under the spotlight for torturing and extorting
money from fishermen.
The fishermen accuse
the soldiers of setting up tortures cells at their military detach at Namugongo
landing site in Mayuge district where they batter those who fail to pay money
in exchange for their freedom.
According to the
fishermen, those found with illegal fishing gear on Lake Victoria are charged Shillings 400,000 while those transporting immature fish pay Shillings 600,000.
The fishermen claim
that instead of prosecuting them in courts of law, the soldiers have resorted
to battering them in front of their family members and friends, which deprives
them of their dignity.
They claim that their pleas for help to police and local
leaders fell on deaf ears as the FPU personnel are only accountable to
president, Yoweri Museveni.
Edward Kyambadde, a
resident of Wanyange lake village in Northern division in Jinja city was
arrested while fishing along Lwabitooke Island on July 05th, 2020.
According to Kyambadde,
the soldiers who were sailing at a breakneck speed dumped him in their boat as
they patrolled the lake in search of other fishermen.
He says the by 5:00am the
following day, the soldiers had arrested eight people who they detained in a
grass thatched cell and directed each of them to call their relatives for
He says two of his
colleagues were released after their relatives bribed the officers while the
rest were caned 250 strokes each for two days before they were released on July
//Cue in: “eli teeka…
Kyambadde, who is treating wounds on his buttocks following the torture, says the
incident has traumatized him.
//Cue in: “obulumi…
Esteri Mulondo, a fish
monger at Namoni landing site in Mayuge district, says that she was caned 100
strokes in May even when her relatives had made a down payment of Shillings 250,000.
Mulondo says that she was caned and undressed before unknown men who were
locked up together with her in the same cell at Namugongo landing site.
//cue in: “Webakwagana…
Cue out…wakola otya,”.
Christopher Mbode, a fishmonger from Bwonda landing site in Mayuge district,
says at least four fishermen from their area drowned in 2019 while fleeing from
He says most of their victims have remained silent despite the
torture for fear of reprisal from the implicated officers.
//Cue in: “ekisinga…
the FPU commandant in Jinja and Mayuge districts promised to investigate the
torture claims and declined to comment further. This isn’t the first time
soldiers attached to the FPU are being accused of using excessive force and brutalizing
Last year, 68 fishermen sued government through their lawyer, Abwang Otim
of M/S Abwang Otim, Opok and Co Advocates, demanding Shs1.2 trillion in
compensation for alleged torture by Uganda Peoples' Defense Forces (UPDF)
The applicants who were drawn from Amolatar district submitted
to Lira High court horrifying images of their colleagues being tortured on the
shores of Lake Kyoga, Amolatar District.
In December last year, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga
directed the Fisheries protection unit to halt its operations on all water
bodies in the country for alleged mistreatment of fishing communities.
Relating to the conducting of UPDF against the citizens of Uganda,
this House directs that the operations of the Fisheries Protection Unit be
halted with immediate effect..." Kadaga said.
The directive followed a heated debate in
Parliament on the conduct of the UPDF Fisheries Protection unit.
noted that officers attached to unit have on several occasions been implicated
for harassing, torturing and intimidating fishing communities.