Uganda: Police Refuse to Release List of Abducted People

Court gavel
23 February 2021

Police yesterday did not release the names of people abducted by security men despite the army handing over the list to them last week.

The deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Paul Lokech, was expected to release the list of the suspects and their offences at yesterday's weekly press conference but it was abruptly called off without explanation.

Relatives of the abducted persons were anxious to know whether their missing people were on the list to confirm whether they were still alive.

Many of those detained are said to have participated in the November 18 and 19 protests violent protests which left 54 people dead.

More than 100 people are said to have been abducted from that time to the election period in January by security personnel driving Toyota vans commonly known as drones. Many of them have not been seen since.

Earlier this month, President Museveni admitted that the abducted people had been arrested by security personnel.

He said at least 318 people were arrested but only 55 were still detained. He ordered security to release the list of names of all the detainees.

President Museveni said the missing people were arrested by military intelligence operatives and the army commando unit on allegations that they participated in terror related incidents to disrupt the January 14 elections.

President Museveni ordered security agencies to make their names public so that reports of "disappearance" cease.

The army agreed that the police should release the list. But internally some senior police officers fear that police taking the responsibility of the suspects, many of whom allege to have been tortured, might attract litigation against individual police officers if the victims sue.

However, National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, said those in detention were more than the number announced by government.

Mr Kyagulanyi released the names of more than 250 people who he said were still in unlawful custody. He shared the list with the United Nations agency on human rights.

Mr Moses Ssewankambo, a relative to Ronald Mugerwa, who was abducted by security operatives a few weeks ago at Buwama Town Council in Mpigi District, said yesterday they were anxious to know whether he was on the list or not.

"We are in the dark right now. We do not know whether Mugerwa is with security agencies or he was kidnapped and killed by non-State agencies," Mr Ssewankambo said.

Mr Charles Kabanda and Mr Farouk Lubega, who are looking for 20 missing persons, were angry with police for refusing to release the names of the abducted persons.

Issue

International and local pressure has been mounting on Ugandan security agencies that have been arresting and detaining people.

The United States of America and its allies the European Union have threatened to slap travel sanctions on individual government officials who have participated in human rights abuses.

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