11 December 2018

Uganda: Stop Rights Abuses, Katureebe Tells Government

Kampala — Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has urged leaders to stop human rights violations and make Uganda a better place for everybody to live in because the abuses are tainting the country's image.

"As a country and as leaders, it is time to reflect on where we have gone wrong and how we can make our country a better place to live," Chief Justice Katureebe said yesterday during the international Human Rights Day celebrations in Kampala.

"Recently, I was attending a conference in New York [in the United States] and when I introduced myself, a judge from Iceland talked of the events in Arua. We cannot continue to be identified by these events," he said.

One person was shot dead and dozens injured in the violence that erupted between security forces and Opposition supporters during the Arua Municipality parliamentary by-election campaigns in August.

Some of the MPs, including Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi and his Mityana Municipality counterpart Francis Zaake were allegedly violently arrested and tortured.

At least 33 people, including four Opposition MPs have been charged with treason following the chaos.

The Chief Justice also cited other forms of rights abuses such as limited access to justice and gender-based violence, among others.

"These are things we have seen in our country and I think we better start to reflect. Do we want to see these things happen again?" he asked.

The chairperson of Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Mr Med Kaggwa, also regretted the rate of rights abuses in the country.

Mr Kaggwa reassured the public that UHRC will continue to protect and promote human rights.

The Human Rights Watch and other organisations have documented numerous cases of mistreatment and torture, particularly by security agencies.

On October 18, Mr Yusuf Kawooya, a Democratic Party supporter, was captured on video being brutalised by armed security men on Colville Street in Kampala.

The culprits are facing charges of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline in the army disciplinary court.

Police have on many occasions unjustifiably blocked, restricted and dispersed peaceful assemblies by Opposition groups.

On November 8, the Forum for Democratic Change party leaders and supporters were blocked from holding prayers in Rukungiri District.

In the ensuing confrontation, gunshots and tear gas rocked the town. Many people were injured and others arrested.

UHRC REPORT FINDINGS

Police still top the list of human rights violators, according to a report released in June by UHRC, a local statutory human rights watchdog. A total of 419 cases were recorded against police in 2017 followed by private individuals with 210 complaints and Uganda Peoples Defence Forces with 44.The report also showed that there were 25 complaints against the Uganda Prisons Service with 15 against private companies, 11 against local governments, seven against education institutions and four against Kampala Capital City Authority law enforcers.

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