The Uganda Human Rights Commission has begun an investigation into reports of suspects being tortured and killed during the implementation of COVID-19 control measures in Luwero.
At least two people are said to have died and many more have been injured following police operations to carry out President Yoweri Museveni’s directives to minimize gatherings and one-on-one interactions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ali Ssewankambo, a citizen of Busiika town, was shot by Police Constable David Obong on August 26 while attempting to disperse a group of adolescents. Kassim Luyinda, a bodaboda rider from Zirobwe town council’s Ssemakula stage, died on June 23 after being wounded with a pistol bayonet at a police roadblock.
Another biker, Frank Kagenyi Kiryowa of Buwate town in the Wakiso area, was struck by a bayonet and is still recovering from his injuries. On June 23, he was likewise assassinated after crossing into Luwero during a period when the president had outlawed inter-district travel.
Similarly, Sulaiman Wasswa Kirabira, a Mabanda zone resident in Luwero town council, is recovering from a bone fracture after being beaten up by police officers from the Luwero sub county police post who discovered him outside his home after curfew time.
The victims have now petitioned the Uganda Human Rights Commission to investigate the cases and urge that specific police officers be compensated and prosecuted. The victims accuse the Luwero district police of covering up for the officers who torture and kill people during the operations.
Gloria Kirungi, an investigations official at the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s Naguru headquarters, says the commission has taken an interest in the reported abuses and has questioned some of the victims before contacting the police. Kirungi stated that the cases will be decided by the UHRC tribunal after the investigations are done.
The Savannah Regional Police Spokesperson, Isah Ssemwogerere, declined to comment on the incident. However, URN has learned that, aside from taking statements from victims and grieving relatives, none of the suspected police officers has been charged in civil court or in a police disciplinary court for human rights violations.