What you need to know:
- The issue: Justice.
- Our view: Ugandans need to see justice for the victims and punitive action against the perpetuators of cold blooded killings if we are to end what is fast turning into a culture of impunity.
It is five years yesterday since a joint force comprised of the army and police raided King Charles Wesley Mumbere’s palace in Kasese District. The attack left at least 100 people dead.
It is also slightly more than a year since riots broke out in Kampala and other towns following the arrest of the leader of the National Unity Platform (NUP), Robert Kyagulanyi. Those riots left at least 54 people dead.
If there is anything that the two incidents share in common, is that there has been no justice for the victims.
The security forces were heavily criticised for using disproportionate force against Mr Kyagulanyi’s supporters and innocent bystanders. Diplomats from the European Union (EU) and those from the missions of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden in Kampala called for a full and independent investigation into the handling of the riots to ensure justice for the victims and to avoid impunity for the perpetrators who they said had to be held accountable.
A few days later, President Museveni, in a televised address in which he committed to the payment of compensation for innocent lives lost and businesses that were destroyed during the riots, announced that he had directed an audit into the stray bullets that claimed some of the lives.
The promised compensation has never come. It is not the only one that has not come. The report of the audit into the stray bullets has never come. No action has been seen to be taken against the officers who shot “stray bullets” into buildings.
Security forces have in recent times come under heavy criticism for gunning down at least 12 suspected terrorists, including Sheikh Abbas Mohammad Kilevu, who was believed to have links to the rebel outfit, the Allied Democratic Front (ADF), which is blamed for the four bomb blasts that have left at least nine people dead and scores injured.
We would want to believe that if gunning down of suspects is continuing it is because the perpetrators know that they can always walk away with it. There has been no evidence so far to suggest that punitive action has been taken against those that are known to have killed or perpetuated other human rights abuses. That can only fuel impunity.
We need to walk the talk. Ugandans need to see justice for the victims and punitive action against the perpetuators of cold blooded killings if we are to end what is fast turning into a culture of impunity. The forces need it. Ugandans need it too.