News / Africa

Ugandan Government Asked to Probe Security Force Violence

Police in Kampala arrest alleged rioters , April 29, 2011
Police in Kampala arrest alleged rioters , April 29, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

A human rights group is calling on the Uganda government to conduct “a prompt, independent and thorough investigation” into the recent use of lethal force by security forces.

Human Rights Watch says the violence took place during demonstrations last month over government spending and high food and fuel prices.  It also accuses security force members of beatings, rapes and theft.

“We carried out an investigation over the last couple of weeks into some of the killings that took place in the month of April when Uganda had been experiencing a number of protests over inflation and rising commodity prices. And we were able to determine through our research and investigations, that in at least 9 instances, that we were able to document, killings by security forces,” said Maria Burnett is senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch in Kampala.

She said the findings indicate the use of live ammunition against civilians was unnecessary.

“This is a historical problem in Uganda. We have documented these kinds of problems before, particularly in September 2009 when there were demonstrations against the government and over 40 people were killed in two days by the military using live ammunition,” said Burnett.

She said the government never followed through on its pledge to investigate.

“First of all, perpetrators should be held accountable, but frankly, the government has lost credibility in its commitments to investigate,” she said.

The investigation

“We interviewed multiple eyewitnesses at the places where people actually lost their lives. It’s not just about the individual killings, but what was going on in the area at the time. What kinds of demonstrations were occurring? What were other people doing in the area?”

HRW investigators also talk to the pathologist at the morgue. In some instances we were able to see the dead bodies ourselves,” said Burnett, “And we were able to interview family members of those who had been killed. We did also talk to the military and to some extent the police about some of our concerns, particularly with the military in Gulu, who were heavily deployed in a situation which really did not warrant the use of live ammunition.”

Human Rights Watch has not yet presented all of its findings to the government or police officials yet.

“Obviously, it’s a very busy time for them here with ongoing demonstrations today and an inauguration on Thursday. But it will be part of our work going forward. And shared the basic results of the findings, but I have not had the opportunity to sit down and actually go through each killing independently,” she said.

Donor support

The humanitarian group is also calling on donors “to end support and training of Ugandan police and military units until the killings are investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.”

“We haven’t gotten a response to that yet,” said Burnett, “Historically, when we’ve talked to donors about this issue they have felt that it’s better to engage with the police and the military, so that there is a relationship that can build leverage. And clearly, we understand that and we have not condemned support for those units historically.”

However, she said police received a great deal of support, especially from Britain and Ireland, in the run-up to the presidential election in February. Burnett estimates the British and Irish governments spent about $3 million to train Ugandan police.

Burnett said, “I think it’s important the donors actually have some boundaries as to when their support will actually come to an end. So this isn’t a permanent ban we’re calling for. Rather, end it, until you see accountability here.”

The U.S. also provides some training as well, but Burnett said it relates more to counter-terrorism operations.

You May Like

Nearly 900 Dead, Missing in 2014 Air Disasters

Southeast Asia took a particularly heavy hit; 3 major events involved weather, two planes were shot down in eastern Ukraine, and one crash was attributed to mechanical problems More

Video Islamic State Emergence Transformed Syria, Iraq in 2014

'It was very clear that there were problems building up in Iraq at the end of 2013 but everybody was distracted by Syria,' says one expert, explaining group's rapid rise More

Rights Group: IS Executed Nearly 2,000 in Syria in 6 Months

Islamist group also killed 120 of its own members, most foreign fighters trying to return home, in past two months, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaisei
X
Daniel Schearf
December 25, 2014 4:34 PM
Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video 2014 Saw Intensification of Boko Haram Insurgency

The year 2014 saw Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram intensify its five-year insurgency and target civilians in large numbers as it seized territory in the northeast. The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok in April sparked global outrage, but failed to become the turning point against the sect that Nigeria’s president said it would be. The picture at year's end is one of devastation and uncertainty. VOA’s Anne Look reports.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Fight to Survive Water Crisis

In a region choking from dwindling water supplies, Lebanon has long been regarded as one of the few places where there is enough. But in recent years, half the people in the country have faced severe shortages. And the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon are hit the worst by the water crisis, making the country's most vulnerable people increasingly impoverished and sick. Heather Murdock reports for VOA in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid