Human Rights Watch is investigating police behavior in last week’s riots. Nearly two dozen people died in the violence in the capital, Kampala.
“It appears to us that the vast majority of deaths occurred as a result of stray bullets, mostly,” said researcher Maria Burnett. “It is unclear if the police intended to fire directly upon those people, or whether those people were actually doing anything wrong.”
“Human Rights Watch has been very concerned about the Ugandan police abuse of live ammunition in any protests or demonstration,” she added.
“When you use live ammunition people tend to get killed, especially if that ammunition is not going up in the air, which is sometimes what police say they are doing. The deaths,” she said, “indicate that’s not the case.”
The police say they responded to unrest appropriately.
Burnett also said the clashes have resulted in the government clamping down on several media outlets, as well as the suspension of journalists for broadcasting the clashes.
The violence broke out after police prevented the traditional ruler of the Buganda ethnic group, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, from attending a youth festival.
Members of the Buganda have clashed with the government before over land and other issues.