What you need to know:
- The lawyers also claim that the Muslim suspects are always tortured while in detention unlike those of other faiths.
- Some of the high profile murder cases in which majority Muslims were picked as suspects include those of former police spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, Maj Muhammed Kiggundu and Muhammad Kirumira.
The Uganda Muslim Lawyers Association (UMLAS) has criticised security agencies for always linking Muslims to every high profile murder committed in the country.
The lawyers further claimed that the Muslim suspects are always tortured while in detention unlike those of other faiths.
UMLAS claimed that the practice has left Muslims on tension.
“We are not saying Muslims don’t commit crime but in the past, the trend has indicated that every time there is a murder of a high profile person in government, more than 20 Muslims are arrested and are held in incommunicado for more than 48 hours, contrary to what the Constitution stipulates,” Mr Siraje Mukasa Katantazi, a member of the UMLAS, said at a media briefing yesterday in Kampala.
“We are asking those in authority to follow the rule of law and uphold the rights of these individuals (Muslim suspects). If these people are held as suspects, evidence should be laid and if they are found guilty, let them have their day in court,” he added.
Mr Erias Luyimbaazi Nalukoola, another lawyer, also faulted the deputy Inspector General of Police, Gen Paul Lokech, for his recent remarks linking the rebel outfit of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) to Muslims.
“It has been declared indirectly that being a Muslim, you are viewed as a criminal. By way of innuendo or directly, it meant that ADF and Islam are synonymous; when you see ADF, you see Islam and when you see Islam, you see ADF,” he said.
“He [Gen Lokech] connected Islam to terrorism, yet Islam means peace. We are peaceful people. These days, when a Muslim hears of any act of terrorism, they have to call their children to come back home very fast, thinking they are part of those arrested,” he added.
But when contacted, police spokesperson Fred Enanga dismissed the lawyers’ claims, arguing that the arrest of suspects is based on individual criminal records and not on religious background.
“It’s not true; we don’t target religion but crime. The available evidence places the suspects at the scene and those who participated in the planning and prFeparation did so as individuals and not by sect,” he said.
Anger over torture of suspects
The Muslim lawyers also condemned the security agencies for torturing suspects and killing four of them who allegedly participated in the attempted murder of Gen Katumba Wamala.
On Thursday last week, five men suspected to have been behind the attack on Gen Katumba on June 1 that left his daughter Brenda Nantongo and driver Haruna Kayondo dead, were arraigned before the Nakawa Magistrate’s Court but with visibly torture marks all over their bodies.
“On behalf of the Muslim legal fraternity, we hereby express our dismay and condemnation of the extra judicial killings, torture and blatant abuse of human rights when suspects on charges of attempted murder of Gen Katumba and in double murder of Brenda Nantongo and Haruna, were killed or tortured, abused and battered under the custody of state security operatives,” Ms Saudah Nsereko, the general secretary of the Muslim lawyers, said.
She added: “While we pursue alternative legal options, we shall not only defend the rights of suspects but also to take legal action against the perpetrators of human rights abuses as individuals and vicariously government agencies.”
Some of the high profile murder cases in which majority Muslims were picked as suspects include those of former police spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, Maj Muhammed Kiggundu and Muhammad Kirumira.
On December 27, 2016, police raided Nakasero Mosque and arrested 11 Muslims accused of engaging in terror activities. Barely three days later, police raided another mosque in Kiwatule and arrested 13 more Muslims. But they were released after police later claimed it had acted on false intelligence.