Kampala- Human rights organisations have asked police to promptly and transparently investigate a series of attacks on offices of NGOs and human rights defenders in order to bring the culprits to book.
A group of 31 local and international organisations signed the petition to Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura. They said the severity of one of the recent attacks in which intruders beat up a security guard to death, demonstrates the urgency to investigate these incidents for which no one has been held responsible.
According to the statement issued yesterday, the NGOs say between April and May 16 intruders broke into the offices of at least three organisations; Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE),Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, and Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda).
It is alleged that at HRAPF, the assailants beat to death a security guard Emmanuel Arituha, ransacked the offices of the director and deputy director, and stole documents and a television screen while at FAWE, the intruders stole a server, laptop and desktop computers, cameras, and projectors. The human rights defenders further contend that At HRNJ-Uganda, a CCTV footage shows a visitor apparently providing a dish of food containing sedatives to the security guards, allowing four intruders to search the premises after the guards dozed off.
“The lack of accountability for attacks on non-governmental organisations, has apparently led to an atmosphere in which attackers felt free to kill a security guard in order to accomplish their aims,” Ms Maria Burnett, the senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement.
“The Uganda Police Force needs to live up to its obligation to actively investigate these cases and bring those responsible to justice,” she added.
In July 2015, at the premises of Uganda Land Alliance, another security guard, Richard Oketch, was beaten to death and no one has ever been arrested for the murder.
According to the NGOs’ statement, each incident was reported to police in time, but no investigation was done such as witness statements, DNA and CCTV footages.
“Human rights defenders already work in a challenging and often repressive environment in Uganda,” said Mr Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of HRAPF.
Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Patrick Onyango said he could not comment on the allegations because he needed to consult and read the petition.