Court of Appeal judge, Kenneth Kakuru said the report raises serious concerns which must be condemned by all Ugandans. The current human rights, he said appears to be opposition politicians. Justice Kakuru said government should stop criminalising political activism.
A new report by the Human Rights and Peace Centre-HURIPEC under Makerere University School of Law launched today reveals continuous abuse of civil and political rights in the country. Titled “The abuse of civil and political rights in the era of Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo”, the report tracks rights violations since 2016 when the fifth term of President, Yoweri Museveni started.
The investigations covered cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, cruel inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests, illegal detention, as well as violation of the right to a fair hearing, freedom of association and assembly, right to culture and religion and habeas corpus.
The report says there is a connection across the country of human rights violations especially arbitrary arrest and illegal detentions, torture of suspects, as well as extrajudicial killings. The report cites Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF), Uganda Police Force (UPF) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) as the main perpetrators.
The report documents 133 cases of extrajudicial killings in 36 districts, 48 in 2016, 34 in 2017 and 51 in 2018. The report also found out that 40 people were unlawfully deprived of life by UPDF soldiers in 12 districts, 62 by police through extra judicial killings in 26 districts and 31 killings by UWA rangers were recorded between March 2016 and December 2018 in seven districts during the period under study.
HURIPEC Director, Dr. Zahara Nampewo said the increasing violation of rights is caused by lack of political will and negative political interests, disregard for rule of law, ambiguities in laws and increased involvement of UPDF in ordinary law enforcement operations that should be done by police.
"Our study found that there was an increasing involvement of the UPDF in ordinary law enforcement activities without adequate safeguards which had resulted in violation of human rights," she said. The president, Zahara said has increasingly portrayed police as a weak, corrupt and incompetent institution "infested with weevils" thereby creating a justification for its replacement in many of its functions by the UPDF.
Court of Appeal Judge, Kenneth Kakuru said the report raises serious concerns, which must be condemned by all Ugandans. He asked government to stop criminalising political activism.
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But Justice Kakuru asked human rights activists to appreciate the strides made by government the over years. Government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo said they welcome the report because some of its findings are consistent with what they already have.
He however, said they hadn't received the report in advance to respond to specific cases.
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Bashir Hangi, the Spokesperson, Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA, also denied claims that UWA rangers were killing people around parks as reported in the findings of the report. “Our men in uniform have standard operating procedures, which they follow in their work,” he said.
He also said it untrue that whoever dies in the park is killed by UWA rangers. “When you enter a game park you are endangering yourself. This isn't an amusement park. There are wild animals and armed poachers anything can happen to you,” he said.
Discussing the report earlier, Arthur Larok, the Federation Director, Action Aid International noted that the report captures the pain of so many Ugandans whose only hope is hope itself. "As i read the report i couldn't help but take occasion breaks to get a well deserved distraction. A well done study but painful to read," he said.