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Human rights violation in Uganda on the rise

Human rights violations in Uganda on the rise
By Wanyana Maureen

Reports have continued to emerge from Uganda concerning rights violations, the opposition is concerned about increasing human rights violations committed against them and other citizens and particularly mentions the torture of opposition members and brutality by local defence forces, police and the army against civilians.

Ugandan authorities continued to criminalize protests without legal basis. The state used preventive detention and criminal charges to deter criticism and the authorities ordered the closure of an LGBTI umbrella rights group.

There have been increasing signs of restricting civic spaces, as the political climate becomes more tense. The national police maintain internal security. While the army is responsible for external security, the President detailed army officials to leadership roles within the police. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings; forced disappearance; torture; and arbitrary detention by government agencies.

The Ugandan government is also responsible for harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; detainment of political prisoners; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; lack of independence of the judiciary; the worst forms of restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including violence, threats of violence, and unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, censorship, and site blocking; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful
assembly and freedom of association; restrictions on political participation; significant acts of corruption; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex persons (LGBTI); and the existence of lawscriminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults.

The government is reluctant to investigate, prosecute, or punish officials who committed human rights abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in government, and impunity was a problem.

There were several reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, including due to torture. Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) and Presidential hopeful Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, announced that his supporter, fellow musician Michael Kalinda also known as Zigy Wyne, died at Mulago Hospital due to injuries sustained from severe torture by police.

The authorities did not report any new findings related to the 2018 killing of Kyagulanyi’s driver, Yasin Kawuma.

Several disappearances, particularly of individuals identified as supporters of Kyagulanyi. It is reported that accountant and supporter of Kyagulanyi’s People Power movement John Bosco Kibalama had been missing since June 3 after the UPF found Kibalama’s car abandoned on the roadside outside Kampala, with his effects intact inside.

The UPF said it initiated investigations into the disappearance but reported no findings by year’s end. Kibalamaremained missing.

On June 30, unidentified individuals had dumped Makerere University student and Kyagulanyi supporter Joshua William Mukisa at a fuel station in Jinja outside Kampala, with scars on his limbs incurred from torture while in detention. It’s also reported that unidentified individuals in a police uniform kidnapped Mukisa at the university on May 17, blindfolded him, and drove him to an undisclosed unofficial detention facility. Among others who are killed and arrested and tortured.

Conditions in detention centers are harsh and in some cases life-threatening. Serious problems included overcrowding, physical abuse of detainees by security staff and fellow inmates, inadequate food, and understaffing.

Local human rights groups received numerous reports of torture committed by security forces and prison personnel.

Reports of forced labour continued. Most prisons did not have accommodations for persons with disabilities.

The government operated unofficial detention facilities where it detained suspects for months without charge.

The constitution and law prohibit such practices. The law stipulates that any person convicted of an act of torture may receive a sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, a fine of 7.2 million shillings ($1,920), or both. The penalty for conviction of aggravated torture is life imprisonment. Nevertheless, there were credible reports security forces tortured and physically
abused suspects.

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