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Calls for army to account for victims and damage from riots grow louder

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Calls for army to account for victims and damage from riots grow louder

Civilians holding guns

More civil society groups and individuals are demanding for answers from government and security agencies to bring to account those who went rogue and killed 50 unarmed civilians during last Wednesday’s riots.
State murder

Different social media accounts brought incriminating evidence against security agencies.

Former FDC president Dr. Kiiza Besigye noted that: “Most killings were carried out by armed people in civilian clothes, who travelled in vehicles with heavily tinted glasses and civilian, or no number plates. They deliberately targeted and shot (to kill) people or whisked them away in their “civilian” vehicles.”

The cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians by security agents, has been has been acknowledged by the Minister of Security Gen. Elly Tumwine. Speaking to journalists last weekend, Tumwine said security agencies will not hesitate to shoot to death anyone without charge.

But civilians, using photographic and video evidence on various social media platforms, are having none of the threats, and are demanding that the state takes full responsibility for the crimes.

Many are citing the constitutional obligation of the state to protect life and not harm or take away lives, as was witnessed last week.

For example, article 20 of the Uganda’s Constitution notes that the state and all its agencies have an obligation to protect and promote fundamental human rights, of which right to life is supreme.

The Executive Director at the African Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) Samuel Herbert Nsubuga says that such acts by security forces against unarmed civilians contravene the Laws of Uganda and cannot go unpunished.

He reminds the members of the public to responsibly exercise their rights as they hold demonstrations and avoid provoking security officers to avert likely excessive use of force.

Esther Nabwire, the Head of Programs at the organization, insists that security officers that used excessive force must be prosecuted.

“We have already taken this up with the Uganda Police Force, to be able to reveal the identities of these officers who were wearing masks and whose faces couldn’t be seen,” Nabwire says.

Ramathan Ggoobi, an popular economist and lecturer at Makerere University also tweeted:

“Now that dust and emotions are settling, the entire security fraternity needs to account to Ugandans & humanity. What was so much at stake to cause death of so many civilians? One death is too many. No one condons violence, planned or spontaneous, but killing is vexatious.”
Jo Borrelle Fontelles, Vice-President of the European Commission, commented on the violence saying.

“Saddening loss of life in violent incidents in #Uganda. The Government must ensure the safety of all election candidates and their supporters, whatever political affiliation. Respect for democratic rights and rejection of violence are essential in wake of elections.”

Buganda Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga condemned the killings and called on the police to prosecute ‘civilians’ who picked guns and committed murder:

“The price of preventing the spread of COVID-19 should not be killing, maiming, torturing or imprisoning innocent people vying for different political offices,” Mayiga said.

Dr. Livingston Ssewanyana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights also said: “Those who are committing abuses against the population must face the law. Act now to avoid further bloodshed.”
Damage to property

Besides loss of lives, the government has received calls especially from candidates at different levels of representation to explain who damaged their posters and banner.

Kampala Lord Mayor Hajj Erias Lukwago, who is among the opposition candidates whose banners, were torn apart, allegedly by security personnel, have demanded for video evidence from the police.

For example, one of Lukwago’s posters located next to CCTV cameras near Jinja road police post, was torn apart by unknown persons.

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