- About 54 persons were killed already on 18 November 2020 during demonstrations that followed the arrest of former Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi [NUP]
- Under the 2006 International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which Uganda has signed, states have the obligation to prevent enforced disappearances and to hold those involved criminally responsible
Human Rights bodies in Uganda have tasked the security personnel to account for the missing persons.
Uganda experienced a wave of abductions, torture and killings of civilians during the 2021 general elections. Some of the missing persons have not been found to date.
In a joint Civil Society Organisation [CSOs] statement, it calls upon government to account for the persons who are still missing, the reason for their arrest and detention, duration and immediately release all civilians currently held and tried by military agencies, and those who have been held in detention in excess of the Constitutional 48-hour limit.
Since the abductions in November, the opposition party [NUP], claimed in a list released to the media that 680 persons, majority, being their supporters, went missing.
“We note that these disappearances are part of a larger context of securitisation of the Ugandan civic and political space against the backdrop of the January 2021 general elections.”
Responding to the claims on March 4, the Minister of Internal Affairs released a list of 177 names to Parliament of missing Ugandans in detention following arrest.
Relatedly, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni had acknowledged the arrests of 242. “…their names should be made public so that this talk of disappearance is answered,” President Museveni said.
Tasked to explain: President Yoweri Museveni, who is tasked to explain the disappearances of civilians. Internet Photo
Under Article 23 of the Constitution of Uganda, every person has a right to the protection of their personal liberty.
Arrests and detentions are only lawful if they are authorised by law, justifiable and carried out in accordance with the law. In particular, any arrested person must be brought before a court within 48 hours. During those 48 hours, arrested persons have a right to access a lawyer, their next of kin, and medical treatment. The Constitution outlaws the holding of persons in unauthorised places of detention, such as military barracks or ‘safe houses’.
Dr Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa, the Chief Executive Officer for Legal Aid Service Providers’ Network [LASPNET], said: “We need to hold accountable all officers that have committed violations of constitutional rights of the Ugandan population by detailing their names and actions committed to the Director of Public Prosecution office and the Uganda Human Rights Commission for review.”
She said government should restore the due process of the Law and prevent impunity for human rights violations.
At least one missing person has been found dead. In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that military prosecutions of civilians are unlawful and unconstitutional, and established the illegal nature of Section 119 (g) and (h) of the UPDF Act.
The same practice contradicts Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on fair trials, and the recommendations of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.