The calls by President Museveni and rights activists to probe the shooting dead of 54 people during protests in Kampala and other towns across the country are welcome.
These outrageous killings by the police and army on November 18 and 19 could have been avoided had the armed forces exercised restraint and used proportionate force to contain the protesters.
Much as the forces say the protesters burnt tyres on roads, stoned security personnel and civilians, burnt surveillance cameras and police stations, and blocked roads, their reactions were disproportionate. Sadly, these deaths surpass any other peace-time killings in our country’s recent records.
These wanton killings are unacceptable and must be condemned because human life is priceless and no amount of compensation can atone for the pain, suffering, or make up for the lives lost and for the victims to get justice.
While security agencies have quickly totted up 32 rioters as shot dead during confrontations with police and army, another 20 people shot dead by accident, and another two killed in a motor crash and another 800 injured in the fracas, the forces have not, with the same speed, isolated the armed men responsible for the shooting-spree to establish culpability and prosecute the culprits.
It would, therefore, be prudent that the armed forces and their leadership demonstrate the same zeal, speed, and meticulous approach to dissecting the security personnel, some seen in civilian clothes and some wearing bathroom slippers and totting guns, responsible for impulsive shooting dead of protesters.
There is no reason why the police should come up with prompt and precise investigations to determine who were rioters, and non-rioters, and yet fail to quickly collect and analyse the cartridges used and unused, which gun was recklessly fired, and who fired it and also scrutinise video footage from CCTV cameras to identify military cars from which soldiers indiscriminately fired into people and killed them.
Perhaps for best outcome, the police and army should not be entrusted to investigate themselves without risking the exercise being compromised. The two arms of our forces are involved in the killings and, therefore, do not have the moral authority and unstained judgments to investigate own colleagues to establish culpability and prosecute the culprits.
There is, therefore, need to institute an independent commission to investigate these deaths.
Our loud call is that as the campaigns tempo-rise with only one month and half left to close, the police and army should step back, scale down their brutality and stop favouring President Museveni while disrupting other candidates as advised by Africa Judges and Jurists Forum (Daily Monitor, December 1).