6 June 2018

Uganda: Women Demand Police Action on Alleged Kidnappings

Photo: Halima Athumani
Protesters carry coffins to symbolize the kidnappings and murders of women in Uganda,

A group of activists marched on the Ugandan police headquarters Tuesday, protesting what they see as a lack of police response to recent kidnappings and killings.

Donning black T-shirts, the participants chanted, carried banners reading "Women's Lives Matter," and used saucepans and small drums to call attention to their demonstration.

But as they approached police headquarters, anti-riot police arrested four men and one woman.

Sarah Eperu was one of the protesters led away in handcuffs.

"We want security, that is paramount," she said. "We want conclusive investigations. And then we want a desk, specifically for these murders, put in place so that we know that there is a desk which is going to work on the murders, to investigate. … [We want] mechanisms in place which will make sure that we are secure."

This is the second protest this week by activists who say police are not giving ordinary citizens enough protection.

The activists point to several kidnappings that have gone unsolved, with some ending up in gruesome murders of victims, even after relatives paid ransom money.

But police say that some of the alleged abductions were self-kidnappings, done by people trying to defraud their relatives.

As for the killings, police say some of those were crimes of passion or ritual murders.

"Since January, up to today, there have been 42 cases of kidnap that have been reported and investigated," said Patrick Onyango, the deputy police spokesman. "Seven cases involved murder with eight victims. Twenty cases were of self-kidnap. [In] eight cases, all victims were rescued alive. Seven cases, victims are still missing."

Only one recent kidnap case is in court, after the abduction and killing of a wealthy businessman's daughter. Nine suspects have been arrested in the incident.

When people call the police in Uganda, officers sometimes seek payment for fuel before driving to the crime scene. Last year, the inspector general of police was asked about this practice. He said police are given less fuel by the government, so the public should pitch in.

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