KAMPALA — The Uganda National NGO Forum and the civil society organizations fraternity in Uganda is “gravely concerned” by reports of excessive force used by security forces to the students’ peaceful protest against the 15% tuition increment issued by Makerere University.
Mr. Richard Ssewakiryanga, the group’s Executive Director said that the invasion of the university ground, halls of residence and surrounding areas by a combined contingent of the armed personnel under the pretext of law enforcement is wrong.
“This invasion is also a flagrant infringement of the mandates of
states security as enacted under Articles 208 to 214 of the Constitution,” Mr. Ssewakiryanga said noting that the disproportionate use of force and the blurring of lines between civilian
policing and violent crackdown of demonstrations is a trend that has gained currency over time.
President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday directed the withdrawal of the military from the university.
The Presidential directive came after several people including the United States Mission in Uganda had issued statements condemning the police and military brutality exerted on the students that saw many beaten and left nursing injuries in many health facilities.
Mr. Ssewakiryanga also noted that university management owes the students and entire university community a duty of care and should not stand by and watch as the institution’s premises become a battlefield between armed military personnel and defenseless unarmed students.
The US in its statement described as disturbing footage of military attacking unarmed students in their residence halls as well as attacks on journalists covering the riots.
The statement read in part, “This high-handed response by security services is uncalled for and is a direct affront to the freedoms of assembly, and expression guaranteed by Uganda’s constitution. We urge the government of Uganda to allow all Ugandans to exercise their basic rights peacefully and without fear.”
Meanwhile, Mr Ssewakiryanga commended the Media for capturing footage and images that have
exposed these heinous acts—the absence of which would provide grounds for denial of any wrongdoing.
In this regard, he added “we implore the leadership of all responsible security organs to bring to book all errant officers who engaged in acts of torture, wanton destruction of property, pillaging, rape and sexual abuse and grievous bodily harm to students and members of the general public who were caught up in the violence.”