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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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