State violence against civilians must stop

We have said this before but we intend to be repetitive because of the importance and gravity of the issue at hand.

The military and the police must discard the badge of dishonour they now wear too often and stop assaulting protestors and journalists because such actions have no place in a democratic and modern Uganda to which we all aspire.

Brutality of security operatives against citizens is one of the ignoble things which are etched in our history.

The NRM government partly found its way to power through slogans that preached an end to such acts. That the same is still happening more than 30 years later calls for reflection.

The examples of the ugly conduct by men donning army and police uniforms against civilians are so many that it would be a waste of valuable space recounting them.

Two, however, stand out in the past week. The first is of a man in Kasangati who soldiers surrounded and beat up on Thursday that by the time they were done, the man was covered in blood and he could barely walk or speak.

In another incident a man is assaulted at a police station by policemen in uniform while their female counterpart conducts business on the station counter like nothing out of place is happening, suggesting that it is a common occurrence.

It is no longer enough for government officials to come out and apologise or even to charge a few individual officers when such acts of gross abuse of rights occur. Such commitments ring hallow as more abuses are committed. What is more troubling is the apparent lack of commitment by senior government officials to end vicious cycle.

Justice will imply that the abuses of both the police and the military against Ugandans are thoroughly investigated. That the wilful torture and mistreatment of civilians by especially the military cannot go unpunished can’t be stressed enough.

The soldiers beating up people, judging by the effort they put in to hide their faces and number plates of the vehicles they travel in, it is very clear that they know they are committing a crime. Deliberate attempts are also made to remove or deny journalists access to their operation theatre. Why operate in darkness?

To whom will the citizens turn when the very people who are supposed to protect them are garbed in the cloak of impunity as the leading violators of human rights?

Once again, we think, the devastating cycle of repression and violence should have no place in Uganda.


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