The Uganda Human Rights Commission has been monitoring and investigating the various mysterious murders that have been taking place in the country since last year. The Commission is concerned about the magnitude and atrocious manner in which these murders are being executed by ruthless but seemingly organized hit gangs who so far seem to have successfully eluded the law.
The Commission is even more perturbed with reports that efforts to arrest these culprits have not yielded much success, leaving the hit gangs to continue with their criminal activities unabated. The Commission extends its heartfelt condolences to Ugandan families that have been affected by the mysterious murders.The Commission has noted with concern the growing trend of mysterious murders that have been reported in Wakiso, Mukono, Masaka and Rakai areas. Although murder is a criminal as well as security matter, the Uganda Human Rights Commission is of the strong view that it also has far reaching human rights consequences especially deprivation of the right to life of the victims. Other human rights consequences associated with this vice are the violation of human dignity; security; personal safety; privacy of person and home; the right to education for the bereaved children but above all the disruption of the peace in affected communities. People in affected communities are now leaving in fear as nobody knows who will be the next target.
Reports of such murders have recently taken place in Kyanamukaka in Masaka; where a family of 5 people was wiped away; in Kyesiga, Masaka where 1 woman was murdered and then the recent ones in Kanabulemu village, Kyebe Sub County, Rakai District where 9 members of a household were killed and in addition reports of another woman killed over the previous weekend in the same area. The Commission is appalled by the gruesome method of killing in all these murders which we note is the same, that is, by cutting the throats of victims. The attackers also drill a hole in the wall of the house as an access before killing their victims. There have also been reports of a possibility of the killers first sedating their victims before they kill them since no alarms have been heard from victims before they are killed.
The information available on these mysterious murders fails to point to one single cause. Some sources in securing agencies and local communities have attributed these murders to conflicts over land; deals gone sour; personal grudges; hired hit gangs; killing for purposes of ‘sucking blood’ from the victims and terrorist groups. So far all these seem to be more of guess work and others myths. It is therefore important that efforts by security agencies are marshaled to expeditiously apprehend and successfully prosecute the suspects, in order to get to the root cause of these unexplained murders and manage the anxiety among communities and the country at large.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission therefore calls for comprehensive investigations into these mysterious murders by all the law enforcement and security agencies to apprehend the perpetrators and come up with a strategy to stem the growing vice in order to restore peace and order in the country. There is also an urgent need for the investigations to un-earth the motive of these hit gangs.
Whereas the Commission recognizes efforts so far made by the police to investigate these mysterious murders, including deployment of expert detectives in homicide from headquarters to even remote scenes of these crimes, and is aware of some of the impediments it faces in executing its mandate, we as a National Human Rights Institution wish to make the following recommendations that are aimed at curbing the growing trend of mysterious and gruesome murders in the country:
1. Thorough and expeditious investigations should be conducted by police and other security agencies into these murders to apprehend and prosecute the culprits.
2. Joint investigations by the police and other security agencies should be urgently carried out particularly on the causes, motives and the mode of operation of these mysterious murders to inform future interventions.
3. The police should spearhead the development of a detailed plan on preventing the re-occurrence of such murders, including intensification of community policing programs, rationalized deployed of police officers especially in the affected areas.
4. There is an urgent need for the Uganda Police Force to scale up its capacity not only in numbers but also the professional capacity of its detectives to be able to detect and prevent crime. The detectives should be continuously empowered with specialized skills to investigate mysterious and complicated crimes.
5. Following the fact that many of the recent mysterious murders have been reported in areas at our borders with Tanzania, the Uganda Human Rights Commission strongly urges the government of Uganda to strengthen security at its border points in order to stop illegal immigrants who may include criminals. The Uganda Human Rights team that visited the scene was able to establish that unlike our counterparts on the Tanzanian side of the border, the immigration processes and security on the Ugandan side in Rakai District was reported to be characterized by a lot of laxity.
6. Survivors of these murders should be accorded psycho-social counseling to address the effects of trauma. Special attention should be given to the children who survived and witnessed the recent murder of the nine people in Rakai who we believe in addition require special protection being key witnesses in this case.
7. We urge members of the communities to be more vigilant in identifying and reporting suspicious persons in their communities to the authorities to allow for timely interventions. Members of the community are also advised to cooperate with the investigating teams by willingly providing them with information in their possession that is related to these crimes.
8. The Commission is calling on government to urgently revive the local council structures at the grass root level in order to empower community leaders to effectively play their role among which is ensuring the security in their areas.
9. We call upon the Police to carry out community sensitization drives on the importance of residents refraining from tampering with scenes of crime to enable the investigators to get reliable findings.
10. There is an urgent need for government to develop a databank of all people living in Uganda with their clear particulars right from the village level to the national level. The project of National IDs should be expedited.
In conclusion therefore, the Uganda Human Rights Commission is calling on the Uganda Police Force which institution is mandated to keep law and order in the country, to issue an official statement on this worrying development and to inform the public the steps it is taking to address the growing incidence of mysterious murders in the country in order to build public confidence.
For God and My Country
Med S.K Kaggwa
Chairperson, Uganda Human Rights Commission.
Issued on Wednesday 23rd January 2013