Parliament calls for Kasese reconciliation
An inquiry into human rights violations in Kasese district has exposed violation of fundamental rights of the people in the district, since the raid on the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu kingdom in 2016.
A report by Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights in Uganda revealed that a joint state security operation of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces and Uganda Police Force raided and attacked the offices of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu in Kasese Town on the 26 November and later the palace on 27 November 2016.
At least 200 people including royal guards lost their lives with another 225 people were incarcerated.
The committee chairperson, Hon. Fox Odoi Oywelowo while presenting the report during a plenary sitting of Thursday, 11 August 2022 said those incarcerated have suffered long detention without trial.
“The persons who were arrested especially the royal guards, had spent five years in jail without trial by the time of the inquiry,” said Odoi.
He noted that although a good number have been released, there remains 80 people in detention without trial and with some reported to be critically ill.
The report further reveals that nine royal guards have died in detention as confirmed by both the Uganda Prisons and Members of Parliament hailing from Kasese.
“The Uganda Prisons Service confirmed to the committee that nine members of the royal guard died while in custody. Their remains were handed over to their families for interment,” read the report.
Odoi said the litany of human rights violations have intensified the animosity amongst detainees and the Kasese people, so much that the royal guards in detention refused to cooperate with the committee’s inquiry.
“The committee was informed that despite encouragement from their legal representatives, the royal guards declined to record statements for the committee's use. The team reported that the royal guards remain suspicious of the entire justice system and government machinery,” Odoi said.
The committee recommended that government expeditiously engages in dialogue to solve the conflict with the Kasese people who still consider the raid as apartheid by their own government.
“Government should create mechanisms to support the recovery process following the raid on the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu. MPs from Kasese allege that the incarceration of the King and the royal guards was intended to dehumanize and terrorize them and that it constituted an enhanced Ugandanised apartheid,” Odoi said.
The committee urged the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the judiciary to ensure expeditious trial of suspects that are not granted bail.
For those acquitted after spending long years on remand, the committee recommended compensation.
The DPP was also asked to submit an annual report to Parliament with lists of persons held on remand for a period exceeding one year, and the reasons for the delay of trial.
The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa while chairing the plenary sitting commended the committee for a compressive report and direct that the debate be held on Wednesday, 17 August 2022.
“I know you have gone through a lot but when you look at the comprehensiveness of the report you see why you took enough time,” Tayebwa said.