Friday, July 2, 2010

Civil Society Organisations in Uganda issues a statement on increased lawlessness

Members of different civil society organisation in Uganda are concerned that impunity and disrespect for rights of individuals is on the increase in Uganda. Specifically, " we are concerned with the recent reports that have indicated and documented actions of rthe "Kiboko Squad" militia not only beating and breaking up demonstartions, but also their alleged leaders coming out to declare without remorse, that they would continue with their ruthless campaign" the statement said.

CSOs are concerned that the actions compromise the role of security and put into quesrtion the role of the police to maintain law and order. The Constitution under Article 212 casts an obligation on the police to maintain law and order. "Abdicating this duty to vigilante groups is a failure by the organs of the state; it allows such groups like the Kiboko Squad to take the law in their hands in total diregard ofthe state organs charged with keeping law and order" said the statement.

Abrogating the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and other human rights instruments.

CSOs argue that objective III of the National objectives and directive principles of the state policy of the 1995 Constitution; enjoins all organs of the state and the people of Uganda to work towards the promotion of Natioonal Unity, Peace and stability. The actions of this criminal squad threaten the peace and security that thepeople of Uganda have worked so tirelessly to achieve and maintain.

The statement further emphasized that the right of the public is one of the tenets of constitutionalism and free democratic society.

"The right to demonstrate with others peacefully is guaranteed under article 20 of Universal Declaration of Human rights (UHDR) and article 19 of the Civil Political Rights Convention (ICCPR) to which Uganda is a signatory. The same right is recognised under article 29(1) of the constitution which provides that 'Every person shall have the right to (d) freedom to assemble and to denstrate together with others peacefully and unarmed and to petition" said CSOs under Human Rights Network-Uganda.

pre-supposing that members of the public and members of the political parties need to seek for permission before they participate in peaceful demonstrations is to create limits to this fundamental rights that is meant to nurture and protect our young democracy.

The statement said, the action of using force to stop peaceful demonstrations and the use of sticks (kiboko) violates the freedom of expression and conscience guaranteed under article and articles 19 of UDHR and ICCPR and article 29 of the Uganda constitution.

CSOs are also concerned with continued use of excessive force by the Uganda police and the use of lethal and ungazetted weapons such as kiboko which violate rights of individuals. CSOs said, the Supreme Court of Uganda in Simon Kamanywa Vs AG (Constitutional Reference No. 10 of 2000) recognised that canning (using Kiboko) amounts to torture and is degrading whether it is given as a sentence by a competent court or by a person in authority. Members of the kiboko squad have therefore violated this right guarangteed under article 7 of ICCPR and article 24 of the constitution.

It is noteworthy that permitting groups like the 'Kiboko Squad) and their extra-judicial operations not only violates the above rights but is also a setback to our countries' young democracy, if not treated with the seriousness this matter deserve, they may lead to breach of peace and increased violence in the country.

In the view of the above, CSOs recommended the following;

I. The police and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions should arrest and charge all those involved in the kiboko squad and similar paramilitary groups such as Kalangala Action plan and others. Disband all paramilitary groups and have all those responsible for setting up such groups charged in courts of law.

2. The Uganda police force should unequivocally refrain from dealing with obscure factions and sector groupings. Instead the police should commit to having a professional and effecient force that is capable of dealing with demonstration and riots.

3. An independent commission of inquiry into the acts of the squad including its origins, its funders and all those involved should be instituted and criminal actions be considered for those responsible. The inquiry should cover other similar paramilitary groups such as Kalangala Action Plan, Watumbavu among other.

4. The government should review the adequacy, accountability; legitimacy and acceptability of the current frameworkk of the public order management to enable it meet the democratic needs of our society.

5. Government should officially gazetted and make known the security agencies to avoid the usurping of the role of providing security services to self styled gangs.

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