EROSION OF THE RULE OF LAW IN UGANDA

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OUR OPINION

“It is this publication’s position that the President Kaguta Museveni and his government should end partisanship….”

Since the reintroduction of multi-party politics in 2005, the Ugandan government has permitted electoral competition while simultaneously restricting free expression and peaceful assembly. Use of legal and extrajudicial tactics to clamp down on rights has been heightened in the month of August 2018 with the arrest and torture of opposition politicians following the Arua Constituency By-Elections. This was followed with the beating up, arresting and detention of peaceful protesters and journalists in and outside Kampala.
It is noteworthy that military and police partisanship has contributed heavily to Uganda’s disastrous human rights situation. The police and the military have arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and detained opposition politicians. Worse is the subjecting of civilians to trial by a military court martial which evince interference in the criminal justice system. A case in point is the torture and harassment of the MP Robert Kyagulanyi also popularly known as Bobi Wine. This goes against international legal standards and East African Community’s  laws. Only members of the disciplined forces should be subjected to trial by a court martial. Uganda is a founding member of the East African Community.
Like the rest of the Community’s member states Uganda has an obligation to uphold – to respect, protect and fulfil – the human rights protected under regional international treaties to which it is a state party, rights that are also protected under the country’s own constitution. The arrest and detention of opposition politicians violate the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, in particular the provisions which enjoin partner states to exercise good governance, including adherence to the principles of democracy, and the rule of law.
It is this publication’s position that the President Kaguta Museveni and his government should end partisanship in the police force and the military. The authorities in Uganda must also conduct an impartial investigation into allegations of human rights abuses by members of the police force and the military. Discipline, dismiss or prosecute, as appropriate and in accordance with due process standards, those police and military personnel responsible for abuse of rights. An apology by the military for brutalizing journalists going about their business is not enough. Take all appropriate steps to ensure that the police and the military respect the rights of persons arrested and detained. The Ugandan government should also publicly condemn and bring an end to partisanship by police officers, including by ending selective application of the law and targeted harassment of opponents of the ruling party.