UHRC fails to trace 18 missing NUP supporters

Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) Chairperson, Mariam Wangadya (L) and member of the commission, Shifrah Lukwago (R) address the media as they launch their report on the missing National Unity Platform 9NUP) members at their secretariat in Kampala on October 10, 2023. PHOTO | ISAAC KASAMANI

What you need to know:

  • According to the UHRC, 12 of the persons who were reported missing were arrested on suspicion of having committed several offenses and were either released on police bond or court bail.

The chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Ms Mariam Wangadya, has revealed that the Commission has resolved to close 18 files of the allegedly missing National Unity Platform (NUP) party supporters after failing to trace them for the last 12 months.

While releasing a report on the commission’s findings about the 30 missing NUP supporters in Kampala yesterday, Ms Wangadya said UHRC only managed to trace 12 people.

“It will be futile for us to keep these files open when the people provided to us as the next of kin of these missing persons are not interested in these cases.  So, we have taken a decision to close those files,” Ms Wangadya said.

Last year, the NUP secretary general, Mr Lewis Rubongoya, petitioned the human rights body to investigate alleged cases of abduction for 25 of their supporters who were missing then. 

Mr Rubongoya added five more members on the list between January and February, elevating the number of the missing persons to 30.

However, Ms Wangadya noted that whereas the NUP secretariat submitted names of the victims and their next of kin, they failed to provide the key identification details such as their national identification cards, which complicated the investigation process.

“Mr Rubongoya did not provide us with National Identity card numbers for the majority of the alleged missing people despite reminders. Even some relatives of the alleged missing people were not cooperative in providing the necessary information,” she said.

“So, it was difficult for us to establish whether those victims ever existed and even some alleged torture victims turned out to be victims of road accidents. Such a trend of incidents has led the Commission to question the credibility of the complaints referred to us,” she added.

According to the UHRC, 12 of the persons who were reported missing were arrested on suspicion of having committed several offenses and were either released on police bond or court bail.

Majority of the missing NUP supporters were allegedly abducted before, during after the 2021 General Electoral process.

Mr Rubongoya scoffed at the human rights body’s report, saying the commission focused at proving that the reported people are not missing.

“It is good that the Commission acknowledged the missing of at least 18 people, but this does not mean that the 12 were not missing, they were missing by the time of our petition because all these people have ever been detained illegally for more than 48 hours,” Mr Rubongoya said.

“We continue to demand for the release of our missing people because they were taken in broad daylight. People like John Ddamulira are still missing even when security acknowledged his detention,” he added.

Police was unavailable to comment on the reports by press time, but Ms Wangandya said all security operatives were involved in investigations.

Missing NUP supporters
1. Moses Mbabazi
2. Dennis Zzimula
3. Shafik Wangolo
4. Martin Lukwago
5. Peter Kirya
6. John Ddamulira 
7. Michael Semuddu
8. Muhammad Kanatta
9. JohnBosco Kibalama
10. Vincent Nalumonso
11. Yuda Sempijja
12. Musisi Mbowa
13. Musitafa Luwemba
14. Hassan Mubiru
15. Isma Ssesaazi
16. Godfrey Kisembo
17. George Kasumba
18. Joseph Baguma