Sue officers who raided your home, activists tell Kamoga

Leader of the Tabligh Sect, Sheikh Mohammad Yunus Kamoga, after appearing at the High Cout in Kampala on August 22, 2017. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Shekh Kamoga claims men in uniform raided his home and tortured occupants.

Opposition politicians and human rights defenders have advised Sheikh Yunus Kamoga to sue individual police and military intelligence agents who allegedly carried out acts of torture and other human rights violations during the violent raid on his home last Friday. 

Under Uganda’s anti-torture laws, security personnel can be dragged to court and held personally liable for torturing a suspect.

Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) executive director, Mr Livingstone Ssewanyana, yesterday condemned the brutality demonstrated during the raid and offered legal help to the Muslim cleric if he decides to sue.

By press time, the Uganda Law Society also said it was preparing, and would shortly release a statement on the matter.

“Government should not allow such intolerable acts of abuse,” Mr Ssewanyana said; “… those perpetrators should be brought to order by arresting them as this will send a strong signal to others”. 

“I, as well, advise Sheikh Kamoga to file a complaint with the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Police Professional Standards Unit… Such acts are a violation of human rights,” he said.

An alleged video of the attack posted online shows several armed men; some wearing police Field Force Unit uniforms, pouring into the compound before indiscriminately flogging, kicking and beating down youths with gun butts. 

In the video, clearly terrified young men can be seen being dragged by both uniformed and plain-clothed individuals across the rugged concrete surface, and forced to crawl while being punched and kicked. 

Others can be seen pleading, raising their hands in some sort of surrender but are still brutally attacked.

Sheikh Kamoga heads the Jumiat Dawatil Tabligh Al-Salafiya Muslim sect and has had many run-ins with law enforcement on suspicion of involvement in terror activities, allegations he stoutly denies.
 His home in Tula zone, Kawempe Division in Kampala was raided on Friday, June 2 on suspicions that he was illegally holding and radicalising an unknown number of young men.

But he denied the claim, maintaining that he runs a registered NGO called Tula Rehabilitation Centre and yesterday accused the operatives of beating up his clients, and stealing an IPad and other household items.

“You steal even a perfume? A mere perfume?” he wondered, adding; “They climbed walls, they broke the main gate, three doors including the back door, middle one and the one of my bedroom and stole my items,” he said.

“They did beat them badly… Why would you lie to the entire world that I am running an illegal school? This is not true,” he said. “Rehabilitation means collecting people with mental issues and you help them recover and this is my work which I have done for the last 20 years…”.

Police spokesperson SCP Fred Enanga told Monitor on Thursday afternoon that the Force is aware of the Muslim cleric’s complaints.

“We are expecting him to lodge a formal complaint at Kawempe Police Station and once he does that, we shall investigate this issue separately from that which is being investigated against him,” SCP Enanga said.

A combined team from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and police Crime Intelligence Directorate raided Sheikh Kamoga’s home reportedly on a tip-off about “unlawful confinement of children and youths”.

Police authorities, who implied that covert terrorism instruction was ongoing inside the compound, later said 32 youths were secretly being trained in Islamic Sharia law and were rescued.

The Force reportedly received a call from one Sarah Nabbosa, mother of Barrack Mukiibi, a student at St. Lawrence London College, who said her son was under unlawful confinement in Kamoga’s residence.

But National Unit Platform party president, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine and other Ugandans have since launched online protests at the vicious manner of the raid.

“If they are accused of committing any offence, why not arrest them and present them before court, instead of beating them up and subjecting them to all manner of torture? I send heartfelt sympathies to Sheikh Kamoga and the entire Muslim fraternity,” Mr Kyagulanyi tweeted.

Yesterday, Ms Mariam Wangadya, chairperson Uganda Human Rights Commission, said the commission will comment after authenticating the video.

“I am still trying to establish the authenticity of this video. For now I will not comment on it,” she said.

Friday’s raid came three years after Court of Appeal judges acquitted Sheikh Kamoga and other Tabliq Muslim sect leaders of charges of terrorism, overturning a guilty verdict initially entered by the High Court.

The incident casts new light on longstanding accusations of gross human rights violations by the security forces which drew comment from the President two years ago.

In a state-of-security national address delivered on August 15, 2021, President Museveni warned security operatives against torturing crime suspects, saying nobody should be in uniform if he/she doesn’t respect the people of Uganda.

“Why do you beat a prisoner? Because you are too lazy to interrogate him? These are criminals, the torture was bad but the mistake they did was bigger; they killed our children. But these confused people are damaging the good job done by the police and now they spoil it with the beating,” he said, referring to a case in which suspects were brutalised.