The Ugandan government has unfurled a comprehensive report shedding light on the cases of 18 missing Ugandans. This move comes in response to concerns raised by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament over allegations of human rights abuses.
In response, however, the government accused the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) Party of running a smear campaign dubbed “state kidnaps” as a ploy to solicit visas to go abroad.
While presenting a government report regarding the November 2020 protest in Parliament on Tuesday, November 29, 2023, Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi, blamed the National Unity Platform (NUP) for sabotaging the probe of alleged missing persons by preventing their relatives from speaking to which explains why some cases of missing persons remain unresolved to date.
He further wondered why the victims of these kidnaps never captured the number plates of the vehicles behind these abductions.
“It has also been established that there is a well-organized smear campaign to aid people who seek to go abroad in search of livelihood opportunities to claim political persecution or persecution for belonging to sexual minorities. These false and mendacious claims against the government are unfortunately believed by those in the host countries, who are gullible to take these claims as true without verification,” Minister Muhoozi said.
He also blamed the failure of the government to resolve cases of missing persons on the refusal by family and relatives to report these cases to the police.
“The alleged disappearances of Ddamulira John, Kirya Peter, Wangolo Denis, Ssesazi Isima, Mubiru Hassan, Baguma Joseph alias Ssemujju Joseph, and Zzimula Dennis alias Boyi were all never reported to the police. It is the law and official practice that, for one to be declared a missing person, a missing person’s report must be filed, which was not done,” he added.
According to Minister Muhoozi, the next of kin of the reported missing persons did not cooperate with the police investigators, citing an example of Nabakkoza Florence, the next of kin of Wangolo Dennis alias Shafik, who declined to meet the investigators, stating that she had got instructions from NUP not to meet any person.
Muhoozi described the statement by the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, that Uganda is among the worst human rights abusers as false in nature.
“The statement that Uganda is among the worst human rights abusers” is sweeping, unsubstantiated, and false. It is and remains the government’s enduring policy and conviction to respect and protect human rights. In the unlikely event that individual agents of government or even private citizens are involved in alleged abuses, the matter can only be addressed in specific terms and not in a casual and generalized way,” Muhoozi said.
The Minister also called on individuals with evidence showing the individuals behind the killings of civilians during the November 2020 protests to furnish investigation bodies with this kind of evidence.
“Government keeps open the window for any fresh and incontrovertible evidence, pointing to individual culpa regarding alleged wanton and unjustifiable use of excessive force in order to ensure that the ends of justice and accountability are served,” said Gen.Muhoozi.
Minister Muhoozi also revealed that the government is still carrying out investigations to verify the registration of the Police Truck 17 that was cited in the knocking of dead civilians during the November 2020 killings in downtown Kampala.
The government also denied allegations that Muslims are being targeted and arrested for various crimes due to their religious affiliations, describing such accusations as an attempt by people to hide behind their religion to evade justice.
“Uganda is a secular country. Participation in crime, in all its manifestations, is an individual choice. Any attempt therefore to seek shelter in ethnicity, religion, gender, or political affiliation in order to evade criminal liability is grossly misleading and untenable,” he added.
According to Muhoozi, the statistics from the Uganda Prisons Service as of September 30, 2023, indicate that Muslims constitute only 6.4% of the inmates in all Uganda prisons, and they fall behind Catholics, who are 43%, and Protestants, at 29.5%, respectively.
“It is therefore clearly not true that the number of Muslims in prisons is higher than that of the other denominations. It is also equally not true that because Catholics and Protestants are more in the statistics given by the Uganda Prisons Service, they are therefore targeted on account of their faith,” Minister Muhoozi stated.