UN experts “extremely concerned” at Human Rights violations in Uganda

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Brutality from security agencies has been cited as a key human rights violation in Uganda; Courtesy Photo

GENEVA: UN human rights experts have called on the Government of Uganda to immediately stop the brutal crackdown on its political opponents which began in the lead-up to January’s disputed general elections and continues to suppress opposition supporters.

According to a document published on 13th April 2021 by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights OHCHR, the experts are alarmed by the reports of “widespread and continued repression” against opposition leaders and their supporters in Uganda arising from brutal policing methods including the use of live ammunition.

“We are particularly alarmed by the reports of widespread and continued repression against opposition leaders and their supporters,” the experts said. “More than 50 people have been killed as a result of the brutal policing methods, including the use of live ammunition fired without warning, and at least 20 others have lost their lives in incidents linked to the electoral context.”

The experts including Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Chairman UN Human Rights Council), Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius, (Vice Chair), Ms. Aua Balde, Mr. Bernard Duhaime and Mr. Luciano Hazan, urged the authorities to immediately and thoroughly investigate and prosecute all human rights violations, including allegations of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, torture and ill treatment, deprivation of due process of law and assault on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

According to experts, several thousand people have been arrested and while some have been released, others have allegedly been tortured before appearing in military courts, while relatives of others often do not know their fate or whereabouts. “It is outrageous that those who are requesting information about their forcibly disappeared relatives are further subjected to reprisals and arrest,” the independent experts said.

“We are urging the Government of Uganda to take all necessary measures to immediately stop the concealing of information concerning individuals arrested in the context of the general elections, a practice amounting to enforced disappearance, and reveal their fate and whereabouts.

The experts also noted that the house arrest between 14 and 25 January 2021 of National Unity Platform president Robert Kyagulanyi, is symptomatic of the “flagrant suppression tactics of the opposition and the absence of due process of law.”

They also noted that massive deployment of armed forces in cities, as well as the intimidation and attacks of opposition observers at polling stations, reportedly affected voter turnout; while the interruption of internet services slowed the voting process and affected counting.

“The curtailing of freedom of press and media, the intimidation, ill-treatment and assaults of journalists covering the elections and especially the opposition is simply unacceptable. The Government must provide immediate remedies and reparation to all the victims,” experts said.

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