KAMPALA – The Chief of Defence Forces, General David Muhoozi, has expressed shock at the level of brutality allegedly meted out against fishermen operating on Lake Kyoga by soldiers of the UPDF Marine Unit.
Gen. Muhoozi, while visiting Bangladesh and Nalibwowo landing sites in Amolatar district on Monday, was able to meet about 50 residents with injuries reportedly sustained at the hands of UPDF soldiers.
The UPDF Marine unit under the command of Lt. Col Moses Nuwagaba is currently involved in special operations against illegal fishing practices on Lake Kyoga.
A visibly concerned Muhoozi listened intently as some of the victims narrated how they were caned, denied meals and jailed for days.
Mr Amulaferi Ongwen, the district party chairman, said the UPDF activities in the lake are riddled with human rights violations.
He said government should compensate fishermen who lost their boats and fishing nets during the UPDF operations because it was the “only assets that could feed them
Gen. Muhoozi promised to set up a special committee to investigate the allegations of torture and brutality raised by the fishermen. He also ordered for investigations into the alleged involvement of some UPDF marine soldiers in illegal fishing.
In April 2019, leaders suspended fishing activities on Lake Kyoga for two months, with fishermen asked then to rally behind army.
Subsequently, in May this year, UPDF raided Kibuye landing site on Lake Kyoga and destroyed 400 boats and dozens of fishing nets.
During the illegal fishing operations, UPDF soldiers confiscate and destroy illegal fishing gear, among others, undersize nets and boats. However, the soldiers are accused of brutality in the execution of their duties.
Mr Simon Peter Ongom, the Amolatar district chairperson, said whereas illegal fishing is dangerous to the Lake, marine soldiers should find better ways of restoring sanity on the lake other than brutalizing residents.