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Day May 26, 2011

Letter to President Museveni from NGOs on the importance of conducting an independent investigation into killings during the recent protestss


May 26, 2011
Your Excellency,
We, Ugandans At Heart Forum members and international non-governmental organizations, write to urge the Ugandan government to promptly set up an impartial, independent, and transparent process to investigate human rights abuses during the recent“Walk to Work” protests and hold accountable anyone found responsible for criminal acts particularly incidents in, which people were killed or wounded. As Uganda actively participates in various international mechanisms and is committed to rule of law, we also encourage the government to draw on international expertise and invite relevant United Nations special rapportuers to visit Uganda.

We welcome that in your statement to the nation on May 17, 2011, you referred to the death of two year old Julian Nalwanga in Masaka as a result of shooting by police as a “criminal killing.” There is ample evidence that at least 8 other killings in April warrant timely and transparent criminal investigations.

Police have put significant resources into investigations of alleged acts of looting, arson and destruction of property by protestors and arrested hundreds of people for unlawful assembly. We ask that government work to ensure that equal efforts are extended to investigations and appropriate criminal prosecutions of security forces who used live ammunition and killed Ugandan citizens without legal justification.

Little effort has gone into an examination of the decision by the security forces to resort to live ammunition in Masaka, Gulu and various areas of Kampala in April. We applaud the arrest of the policeman in Masaka and hope he will be given a fair trial before civilian courts, but we remain concerned that no meaningful actions are being taken in several other incidents.

Alleged misuses of lethal force are incompatible with Uganda’s duty to respect the right to life, the responsibility to protect and violate international standards. The Ugandan government has international obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to investigate all police and military actions that allegedly violate basic rights and hold perpetrators of violations to account. International law to which Uganda is a party provides that exceptional circumstances such as internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked to justify any derogation from the right to life and security of the person.

In September 2009, at least 40 people were killed when government forces responded with live ammunition to protests and demonstrations regarding the movements of the Kabaka. Hundreds of people were arrested and charged with a range of crimes for participation in those demonstrations. Despite multiple commitments from parliament and police to investigate the killings, no action has taken place. This uneven implementation of the rule of law undermines Uganda’s commitment to justice and perpetuates a sense that criminal accountability is political rather than based on equal respect for all.

Uganda is a current member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. In this connection, we urge the Ugandan government to engage with the council’s reporting systems, particularly to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

The Ugandan government should immediately extend an invitation to these experts so that they may investigate any abuses that may have occurred that are covered by their mandate. This would not be unprecedented.Shortly after you took power in 1986, your government extended an invitation and hosted the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. Beyond inviting these experts now, Uganda should issue a standing invitation to all the special rapportuers and the UN working groups to visit Uganda. Some 80 countries have now extended such a standing invitation including Ghana, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Guinea Bissau.

In summary, we urge you to act quickly to:
• establish an impartial, independent, and transparent process to investigate human rights abuses, particularly incidents in which people were killed, during the recent unrest in April and May and hold accountable those found responsible for criminal acts.
• invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression to come to Uganda and issue standing invitations to all rapportuers.
The Ugandan government should show its commitment to justice by using all legal mechanisms at its disposal to investigate these killings by security forces and ensure accountability.

We look forward to your attention and prompt response to these matters of concern.
NGO Sign Ons:
FHRI, Kampala Uganda
HURINET, Kampala Uganda
Human Rights Watch
National NGO Forum, Uganda

Posted to UAH  asking for our cooperation in this matter by:

Livingstone Sewanyana

Executive Director

*********************************

Foundation For Human Rights Initiative (FHRI)

P.O. Box 11027 Kampala

Plot 1853 Block 15 Lulume Road, Nsambya

Tel: 256-414-510263,510498, 510276

Fax: 256-414-510498

Email: fhri@dmail.ug

Website: www.fhri.or.ug

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M7 should Never Have Stood in 2011 Elections.He Again Insulted Ugandans


When Democracy Insults

By

Rehema Kampala

Dear Ugandans at heart,

If there was any hope of free, fair, and credible elections in Uganda this year, that hope was dashed the moment President Yoweri Museveni decided to run for president. I shall return to this.

After the 2006 electoral heist, it looked like we couldn’t sink any lower in electoral malfeasance. We thought we had seen it all and nobody could take 31 million people for a ride ever again in the name of democracy. It looked increasingly likely that election 2011 would bring the political change the country so desperately needed. The opposition under Interparty Cooperation had the support of almost all Ugandans before Museveni spoilt everything.

Based on this assumption, Ugandans were willing to make the necessary sacrifice.And so we approached the 2011 elections with a lot of hope and plenty of promises from the president and the electoral commission. The elections have come and gone. Unfortunately, they were neither free and fair nor credible. Electoral malpractices were widespread. The fraud was manifest in the inflation of votes, multiple thumb printing (evidence abound on Youtube), buying of voter’s card, inducement and buying of voters on election day, the seizure of polling stations and sharing of ballot papers, underage voting, violence, and intimidation of voters. The list is endless.

The point is that the election fell below expectation. Some would argue that it was a marked improvement from 2006. That may be the case. But that argument is meaningless if one considers the unprecedented post-election violence that has been meted out to the likes of Besigye and Mao, and the fact that other parties rejected the results.

It seems our greatest undoing as a nation is our predilection for mediocrity and perversion of transformational values. Old men in Uganda are nolonger afraid of telling lies in public. Kivenjinja Kirunda, the minister of internal affairs, has been the greates liar of all, followed by president Museveni himself.

The ‘’Independent’’ Electoral Commission (EC) may not have been in a position to deal with a lot of the anomalies witnessed during the election, but that is not to say the commission is completely blameless. Clearly, EC was not prepared for the election and it showed a lack of authority and determination at every turn.

For example, in some regions, there were marked differences in the provisional and final figures after the voter registration exercise which EC could not explain. The number of invalid votes during the elections shows that EC did not take seriously the issue of voter education. In a country with one of the highest level of illiteracy, why did EC make the sample ballot paper a mystery?

When president Museveni said that EC was the only body with the authority to fix the order of election, after Besigye had announced that he would announce his own results, we all knew that elections were not going to be free and fair. Some of the lame excuses the EC offered included the statement that ballot papers had been printed, as if that had any bearing on the date the election would take place. So much for commitment to free and fair election! With over 20 million US dollars and a lot of goodwill from Ugandans, EC ought to have done better but they didnt. Dr.Kiggundu, chairman of EC, is a known NRM cadre and he is likely to remain chairman for as long as Museveni is still president of Uganda.

But if we focus on EC we miss the point. President Museveni’s entry into the presidential race changed the dynamics of the election. Was he going to run to lose, in a country where money is everything and incumbency rules, no matter the level of incompetence?

Regrettably, most in NRM have refused to see that Uganda is bigger than President Museveni or his ambitions. Of course, there was the moral burden he faced in his party. But beyond that was the inability to appreciate that one of the greatest problems confronting us as a nation is bad leadership. Museveni is simply the most selfish leader Uganda has had since independence.

Since independence, we have had the misfortune of being saddled with morally bankrupt, inept and visionless leaders. And this has persisted because we haven’t been able to conduct credible elections. It is either competent people are rigged out or they do not trust the system enough to run for office. President Museveni had the golden opportunity to change that in 1996 but he has proved to be worse than past presidents. He has killed more people than both Obote and Amin Combined but the western media started to talk about it just this year during the ‘WALK TO WORK’ protests when Arinaitwe Gilbert treated Besigye like a sack of potatoes in a pick up.

Once he decided to run, President Museveni had to do all he needed to do to win, whether it meant running what perhaps was the most expensive presidential campaign in history, in total disregard of the country’s electoral laws, bending the rules to favour him or coercing governors to get their support.We need a courageous leader; one who is willing to make sacrifices on our behalf. President Museveni failed Uganda in this regard.

As always, there are those who would want us to be amnesiac. We need to move Uganda forward is their ever ready answer to our political and social problems. But the next five years will not be dedicated to governance in any form. From May 12, 2011, the race will begin in the ruling party on who will succeed President Museveni in 2016, that is if he keeps his promise to serve his final term. In the months ahead there will be political jobbers who will resurrect the debate of 7-year tenure for the president.

I’m also surprised with the media that keeps giving space to the children of big people in NRM to either cement the dictatorship ideas in the country or continue to confuse Ugandans. For example, the Daily Monitor has been publishing articles from Mbabazi’s daughter and they are slowly turning her into some form of a serious intellectual person yet she is clearly confusing Ugandans. Before we know it, Muhoozi will also start appearing more in the Newvision on a regular basis as if we have not had enough of this rotten batch.

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