Jailed city lawyer Male Mabirizi has instituted criminal proceedings in the Mukono Chief Magistrate’s court against the retired Director of Operations in the Uganda Police Force, Edward Ochom, and two others over their shoot-to-kill orders against aggravated robbery suspects. The other suspects are Stephen Tanui, the Kampala Metropolitan Area Police Commander, and Col. Fred Mwesigye, the commandant of UPDF’s operation Tokora.
In his application, Mabirizi claims that on June 29th, 2022, while in Mukono municipality and within the district, the suspects ordered their juniors to shoot and kill any person suspected of engaging in aggravated robbery without recording statements from them or producing them before courts of law thereby derogating the right to a fair hearing.
He wants the court to charge the trio with derogation of a nonderogable right and freedom guaranteed under the constitution contrary to the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2019. “That I know that by the above, the accused committed the offense of derogation of nonderogable right and freedom guaranteed under the constitution that is the right to a fair hearing and right to liberty”, says Mabirizi in his affidavit, a copy of which URN has seen.
He wants the court to issue criminal summons against the trio to face charges that attract a maximum sentence of 15 months and issue a production warrant directing Uganda Prisons Services to bring him to Mukono Court physically when the matter is fixed for hearing to enable him to prosecute the case properly. Mabirizi is currently serving a sentence of 18 months at Luzira Upper-Security Prison handed to him by High Court Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana for contempt of court on February 15th, 2022.
Trouble for the trio started when video footage aired on various channels showing them, saying that they are fed up with robbers and want them shot on site before inquiries are conducted to establish how they acquired the firearms. The officers made the comment in a security meeting convened days after the robbers attacked Spice Supermarket in Mukono where they shot the cashier, Irene Nakandi, and made off with an unspecified amount of money.
Ochom, who retired last week was personally quoted as saying that despite arresting armed robbers and presenting them to the court, the majority had failed to reform, which left security with no option but to kill them. The case drafted and signed by Mabirizi himself was filed by his Associate who preferred not to be mentioned.
The court is yet to summon the accused persons to respond to the suit. This is not the first time Mabirizi is challenging extra judicial killings in the country. In November 2021, Mabirizi petitioned the East African Court of Justice to challenge the extra judicial killings of terrorism suspects in the country.
He asked court to declare that it is unlawful for security forces to kill someone when the death isn’t sanctioned by a competent court of record. Mabirizi listed six people who were reportedly killed by security agencies between November 17th and 19th 2021, under suspicious circumstances during counter-terrorism operations following the twin city bombings at Central Police Station Kampala and the IPS building.