Uganda Human Rights Commission
Statement on the recent
Escalation of incidents of Murders and specifically of Muslim Clerics in Uganda
Friday 9th January 2015
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) is deeply concerned with the general escalation of murder incidents in the country which have been persistent in the last three years. The UHRC is on record through its recently published Annual Report (2013), to have voiced its concerns on the increasing number of murders in the country and the possible causes as advanced by security agencies and some members of the community. Our findings revealed that the causes of rampant murders range from the misuse of fire arms especially by security guards; guns being in wrong hands after forcefully grabbing them from security personnel; high prevalence of poverty and hard economic conditions with increasing un employment levels that make the victims vulnerable and desperate for survival. Other causes of high rates of murders that were earlier pointed out by UHRC include low policing capacity evident in the lack of modern investigation equipment; declining community vigilance including lack of LC structures; inadequate funding to the Uganda Police; increased cases of human sacrifice and domestic violence. Land disputes; porous borders and laxity in security and immigration procedures at borders and increased incidence of mob action were also reported to contribute to the high incidence of murders in Uganda over the past three years.
The UHRC is however even more perturbed by the recent wave of seemingly targeted murders of Muslim Clerics in Uganda. The Uganda Human Rights Commission strongly condemns the gunning down of the three prominent Muslim leaders in Kampala, Mayuge district and on Entebbe Road by unknown assailants which occurred in 2014. The UHRC also recognizes that there were earlier murders of other prominent Muslims in the year 2012 again both here in Kampala and in Bugiri District, in the Busoga sub region. Reports that there have been attempts to attack the home of another Muslim leader last week- end which was foiled and allegations of some Muslim leaders missing here in Kampala are a cause for serious concern to us at the Uganda Human Rights Commission and to the country at large. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the bereaved families of the victims of such barbaric acts; the Muslim community, the government of Uganda and the entire nation.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission whose mandate is to protect and promote human rights in country, regrettably notes that although murders are outright crimes and security matters, they also lead to violation of fundamental human rights provided for by not only the Constitution of Uganda, but also by the regional and international human rights standards to which Uganda is party. The UHRC notes that murders like the ones recently committed against the said Ugandans, violate Article 22 (1) of the Uganda Constitution which prohibits the deprivation of the right to life except in execution of a sentence after a fair trial. In cases where the person murdered was the sole bread winner of the family, we note that this leads to disruption of lives of the victims’ dependents, who may suffer economic hardships which inadvertently affects a whole range of rights including the rights of children.
In the case of the recent murders of Muslim Clerics reported, the Uganda Human Rights Commission has noted the quick response by the Police in instituting investigations; the disciplinary action so far taken against some Police Officers for negligence of duty and other measures taken to ensure the safety of some of the Muslim leaders alleged to be under threat. We further acknowledge other police efforts reported in Mayuge district including the setting up of toll free telephone lines to receive intelligence information from the community and plans to have patrol boats between Busia and Jinja districts for security surveillance. UHRC also lauds reports of police efforts to boost crime prevention up to the village level in Mayuge district and the neighbouring districts of Busia and Tororo by recruiting and training 13,000 crime preventers in Mayuge district. The Uganda Human rights Commission however, notes the mixed signals sent by police when they again last week on air disowned some of the groups of crime preventers who clashed in Kampala.
Furthermore, the UHRC is equally concerned about re-emergence of stick wielding men and in some cases civilians carrying guns during mob clashes that have been recently screened on some local television stations; which are a threat to respect for the rule of law in the country. The Uganda Human Rights Commission has on several occasions called on the police to fulfill its constitutional mandate as the only institution mandated to keep law and order in the country. Additionally we have noted that the Uganda Police Force keeps acquiring new uniforms that come in different colours and print. This may be a good development and for a good reason, but there is need for the Police to inform the country whenever a new police uniform is introduced to avoid confusing the public.
Whereas there have been some positive steps as enumerated above, the Uganda Human Rights Commission is calling for the following urgent interventions:
- the Police should widen the scope of investigations to critically look into political, economic, religious/sect, terrorist, criminal, fraud, deals gone sour and family considerations to stem the ‘red herring’ theory and rebuild public confidence by providing regular updates on the progress of investigations;
- the police should expedite investigations into these murders, conclude them and bring the culprits to justice as well as manage the fear and anxiety among communities and the country at large;
- government should urgently adequately equip the Police for better crime prevention performance and improve the welfare of the staff in the Uganda Police Force;
- the police should clarify to the country under which department crime preventers fall for purposes of regulation, supervision and guidance during their work;
- UHRC reiterates the call to the Ministry of Local Government to urgently reinstatement of Local Council structures at the village level to take care of security in the communities;
- police should step up community policing programs and enhance sensitization of communities to report crime or suspected crime and suspicious persons in their communities;
- members of the public should respect other persons’ rights including the right to life and respect the rule of law by desisting from taking the law into their hands;
- the public should endeavor not to tamper with scenes of crime to enable the dog section to do its work and should cooperate with investigating teams by willingly providing information in their possession related to the murders;
- members of the public should refrain from making statements that may cause further anxiety among communities and report alleged cases of missing relatives to the authorities and
- all security agencies should strengthen the control of armories, use and movement of arms in the country.
In conclusion therefore, the Uganda Human Rights Commission calls the public to remain calm and cooperate with the law enforcement agencies in curbing murders and other crime and the government and specifically the Police to step up efforts to fulfill its obligation to protect the lives and property of all Ugandans.
For God and My Country
Med S.K Kaggwa