The Uganda Human Rights Commission has asked the police and other security organizations to investigate the circumstances under which suspects who were accused of attempting to kill the former Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala were killed.
Speaking to reporters on Monday at the Commission headquarters in Kampala, Meddie Mulumba, the acting chairperson said the police must come clean with a report to show how the suspects were shot because the Ugandan law presumes that suspects are innocent until proven guilty.
Mulumba also condemned the torturing of the suspects. Five suspects appeared at the Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court unable to walk or sit because of the wounds they allegedly sustained as a result of torture from their captors.
About a fortnight ago, the police working with other security organs reported that it had shot and killed four prime suspects in the attempted assassination of Gen Katumba that left his daughter Brenda Nantongo and driver Haruna Kayondo dead.
Gen Paul Lokech, the Deputy Inspector General of Police who first acknowledged the killing of only one suspect, said those shot dead attempted to resist their arrest by fighting law enforcement personnel.
When contacted, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga declined to comment saying it’s now a court matter. “You have to learn protocol, once a matter is in court, you don’t go on discussing it whether they have raised it or not, it remains to be determined by the court as simple as that,” Enanga said.
Meanwhile, the Uganda Human Rights Commission has called upon the judiciary to expand its coverage of online court proceedings across the country to enable people’s cases to be heard and determined on time. Mulumba said many suspects continue to languish in police and prison cells without appearing before courts of law because of the scaling down of court activities as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 inspired lockdown.
Mulumba said even during a pandemic, the government should strive to uphold the citizen’s basic rights like that of fair hearing.
Mulumba also welcomed the President’s appointment of a new chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Mariam Wangadya. He said the absence of the chairperson had hampered the Commission’s core activities including the hearing of human rights violation cases.
The chair of the Uganda Human Rights Commission fell vacant in 2019 after the sudden death of Meddie Kaggwa. Since then, President Yoweri Museveni had never appointed a replacement.
However, last week while reshuffling permanent secretaries, Museveni appointed Wangadya who has been the deputy Inspector General of Government to replace Kaggwa. Museveni also appointed Betty Kamya as the IGG and Ann Muhirwe as her deputy also filling positions that have been vacant since 2019 when the then IGG Irene Mulyagonja took up another job as Justice of the Court of Appeal.