Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) in Uganda have collectively condemned police for reportedly absconding its role of safeguarding the lives of citizens and property which they say has increased impunity.
At least 10 NGOs including FHRI, information pills Chapter Four, health HURINET, Legal Aid among others on Monday expressed concern about the slow investigations conducted by police following a string of attacks and break-ins at several NGO offices.
These concerns come a day after the offices of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) were raided by assailants and a security guard, a one Emmanueal Alituha killed.
The incident occurred on May 22 when 4 assailants captured by CCTV security cameras broke into the
premises in Namirembe and took away documents, files and a TV screen.
During a news conference on Monday, the HRAPF Executive Director Adrian Jjuko said that having notified the police in time, it arrived at the crime scene two hours late before taking samples of physical evidence.
“Surprisingly, the police didn’t even take the full footage recorded by our cameras showing faces of the 4 assailants. We call upon the police to quickly complete the investigations, as we are worried about
the motive of this horrendous crime,” said Jjuko.
There have been an increase in break-ins at offices belonging to Civil Society Organisations and residential apartments in growing surburbs of Kisaasasi, Naalya, Najjera mong others in recent
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango was last year quoted as saying the break-ins at the CSOs offices was an insider job.
“Various NGOs came and asked for the preliminary report although it was not conclusive but the investigations are leading to inside jobs and when we further interrogate the workers, the bosses say police is harassing the workers,” said Onyango.
Sheilla Muwanga the Deputy Director of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) commented on the quality of police investigations which she said is worrying.
“We are experiencing a culture of impunity and if nothing is done, we might be compelled to link these attacks on NGOs to the state as accomplices,” she said.
“When our offices (FHRI) were attacked by unknown people back in 2014, Police didn’t bother taking finger prints of our staff as first suspects which is basic practice,” she went on to state.
According to Muwanga, the incompetency of the police in providing conclusive investigations is a broader problem, evident through several other cases such as the spate of attacks on Muslim clerics in
In a recent report released by NGO Forum, it revealed that at least 26 NGOs in Uganda had been victims of attacks on their offices.
Among these were Human Rights Network of Journalists in Uganda (HRNJ-U) in April this year, Human Rights Network (HURINET) in 2014 and Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) in 2014.
HURINET’s Executive Director, Mohammed Ndifuna says that despite the Police IGP ordering for investigations to be done expeditiously on the break in of their offices in 2014, investigations are still on going to date.
On what these organizations suspect could be the cause of this pattern of attacks, Chapter Four and human rights lawyer Nicolas Opiyo said; “All these organizations do their activities lawfully and are
registered entities. What appears similar is that these attackers target information but we don’t want to speculate. It’s the motive we ask the state to investigate.”
In the wake of the concluded elections, individual state actors came out to strongly criticize the role of civil society and NGOs accusing them of being influenced by foreign powers to taint government’s
image. With all these attacks having keen interest in official information, it appears like a highly organized and syndicated crime.
Commenting on the HRAPF break in however, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga told Press today that they were not yet in possession of the report on the break in.
On the reports for previous incidents on human rights offices, Enanga advised the NGOs to apply officially asking for the reports.
“We get over 500,000 cases; we can’t make individual reports for everyone. If anyone requires it, they ought to request, pay and the report will be given to them.