The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has
directed the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces-UPDF Fisheries protection unit to
halt its operations on all water bodies in the countries for alleged
mistreatment of fishing communities.
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Kadaga’s directive stemmed from a heated debate
in parliament on the conduct of the UPDF Fisheries
Protection unit on Thursday.
Legislators noted that officers attached to the UPDF
Fisheries Protection Unit have time and again
been implicated for harassing, torturing and intimidating fishing
MPs dismissed a statement by the Defense State Minister; Charles Okello Engola that was meant to offer a
comprehensive response in regards to the human rights violation, saying it didn’t
offer any accountability and solution.
Engola had told the house that he
needed time to review the cases involving UPDF officers and report back to the
house after recess. He however, noted that UPDF doesn’t condone indiscipline
The Buvuma Islands MP, Egunyu Nantume Janepher suggested
that the operations of the UPDF Fisheries Protection
Unit been suspended with immediate effect until Government assures
parliament on the safety of the people on the lake.
Anthony Akol, the Kilak North MP asked Parliament to exercise
its mandate without considering the powers of the other arms of Government. He
says what is happening on lakes is impunity, arguing that parliament needs to
be seen to do its job.
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Felix Okot Ogong, the Dokolo South MP asked Parliament to
play its part and leave the rest for the implementers.
He remained the house
that the constitution empowers Parliament to make laws, which makes important
for parliament to express its dismay.
He also called for an amendment to
the fisheries act to bar UPDF from illegal operations.
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In 2017, President, Yoweri Museveni directed
UPDF to deploy on Ugandan lakes to combat illegal fishing practices so as to
protect the fish resource that was under threat of depletion.
UPDF set up a Fisheries Protections Unit to
combat illegal fishing operations on various lakes including Victoria, Edward,
George and Kyoga.
The unit also operates on fish trade routes and
markets to stop the sale of immature fish.