Prosecute human rights violators privately - activists

Wednesday September 16 2020

A Local Defence Unit personnel whips a man in Kampala City on March 26 following the Covid-19 lockdown. PHOTO | FILE

By Arthur Arnold Wadero

Activists under their umbrella, the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U) have advised that people who violate human rights while serving on behalf of the State should be privately prosecuted.
The leaders say once the suggestion is embraced, the would-be perpetrators will be more cautious when taking orders from their supervisors.
In his address to the media at the NHRDU headquarters in Kampala yesterday, the executive director of NHRDU, Mr Robert Kirenga, advised the government to embrace the suggestion in order to curb the growing rate of human rights violation.
“If a member of the Uganda Police Force is in violation of the rights of citizens, then we can have that person privately prosecuted,” Mr Kirenga said.
“We are now asking  law enforcement agencies to allow private prosecution of their members who are suspected to be involved in human rights violations.  They should allow private prosecutions outside the ambits of the DPP,” he added.  Mr Kirenga said should such action be taken against perpetrators of such crime, violence will be minimised in the 2021 elections.
Citing the example of the recently concluded National Resistance Movement (NRM) party primaries where pronounced cases of human rights violations were registered, Mr Kirenga said  swift action must be taken against those who violated the law.
The NRM party primaries were marred by scenes of violence in some parts of Ankole Sub-region and eastern Uganda.
The State minister for Labour, Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana, is among those currently battling charges of attempted murder, assault, threatening violence and malicious damage of property.
Last month, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), expressed interest in taking over the prosecution of senior police officers accused of torturing the Mityana Municipality legislator, Mr Francis Zake.
The matter came after Mr Zake, In July, filed five charges against six police officers accused of torturing him during his arrest over alleged violation of Covid-19 guidelines in April
Among the officers were the regional police commander, Bob Kagalura, Mityana District Police Commander Mwine Mukono, and a one Amudan Twesigye.
Mr Edward Serucaca, the advocacy and networking officer at the NCHRD-U, said once private entities like civil rights advocates are encouraged to take the said course of action, there would be a drop in human rights violations.
“We know the DPP is well resourced to undertake these prosecutions and from the civil prosecution end, we are facilitating able civil rights advocates to take up private prosecutions,” he said.
The advocates also want State authorities to minimise or work towards elimination of gender-based violence and discrimination.