Uganda: Release Abductees - Police to Army

A polling assistant verifies a voter’s details at Police Post Polling Station in Rubaga Division, Kampala, during the January 14 election (file photo).
25 February 2021

Police have demanded the army to hand over hundreds of abductees in military detention before the list of their names is released to the public.

Sources said the police are reluctant to release the list unless the army hands over the physical suspects to enable police establish whether the list they received from the army matches with the people in detention.

On February 13, while addressing the nation on security issues, President Museveni admitted that the people who had been reported "kidnapped" were actually arrested by security agencies for various crimes and were in detention. He said the detainees were planning anarchy in the country during or after the elections.

He said they were arrested by either Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) or the army commando unit.

"Their names should be made public so that this talk of disappearance is answered," Mr Museveni ordered.

Last week, the army only released the list of names to police but did not hand over the actual abductees.

Sources in police told Daily Monitor yesterday that police have demanded that the army hands over the abductees to them but the military has not obliged.

"We are demanding the army to hand over the suspects to us such that we are able to account for what we have. There is no way you can release the list of people who were allegedly tortured without having access to them," the police source noted. The source added that the Inspector General of Police, Mr Martin Okoth Ochola, instructed the CID director, Ms Grace Akullo, and police director for Crime Intelligence Brig Christopher Damulira to set up a team to visit all the army detention centres to verify whether the abductees named on the army list are in detention and to assess their health condition.

The sources said without seeing the suspects, police cannot account for their existence or location. Efforts to reach police spokesperson Fred Enanga for the comment on the matter were futile as he did not pick our repeated calls.

When contacted last evening for a comment on why the military had not released the list of abductees to police, the army spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso, declined to comment on the issue.

She said the army had nothing more to do with the abductees after they handed over the list to police last week. She said her comment of last week still stands.

"The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) gave the list of missing people to the Inspector General of Police to be officially released on Monday," Brig Byekwaso told Daily Monitor last week.

However, on Monday this week, police abruptly cancelled the weekly press conference where they were expected to release the list of missing people.

On February 4, the Minister for Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, told Parliament that 44 people had been abducted.

More than 100 people were abducted by security personnel driving Toyota vans, commonly known as drones, ahead of last month's general election.

Majority were abducted after the November 18 and 19 violent protests that left 54 people dead following the arrest of former presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine.

Bobi Wine released 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.

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