KAMPALA – Lawmakers have passed a motion seeking Parliament to inquire into the conduct of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) after numerous claims that the Force has been brutalizing Ugandans.
Fronted by Paul Mwiru (Jinja East), he took to the floor of Parliament during yesterday’s plenary sitting in which he called on Parliament to investigate the atrocities and brutality meted on Ugandans by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
Mwiru argued that whereas Article 208 of the 1995 Constitution establishes the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and stipulates that the UPDF shall be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional, disciplined, productive and subordinate to the civilian authority; the Force has fallen short of living to its constitutional expectations.
He also quoted Article 209 of the Constitution and Section 7 of the UPDF Act spells mandates the UPDF to preserve and defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda, cooperate with the civilian authority in emergency situations and in cases of natural disasters, foster harmony and understanding between the Defence Forces and civilians, something some men in uniform have failed to adhere to.
Mwiru defended his motion saying in the recent post there has been increased intervention of UPDF in civil matters notably regulation of the fishing industry and quelling protests by students of Makerere University which interventions have been marred with torture and brutality against civilians.
He said that the gross violations of human and people rights have been amplified by UPDF intervention in civil matters, which ordinarily should be a preserve of the Uganda Police Force of commanded by Article 212 of the Constitution.
Mwiru said that it is important to duly hold public officials and institutions to account for their actions and inactions as an integral canon of good governance and a possible deterrent from repetitive transgressions.
A number of MPs took to the floor to back the motion like Joshua Anywarach (Padyere County) who said, “I think we need to take our army men to Kenya for benchmarking, they are supposed to protect the country not shooting people.”
Francis Mwijukye (Buhweju County blamed the actions of UPDF on its infusion with Police saying, “Military has taken on the work of Police, that is why they are doing unprofessional work, they are unfortunately everywhere doing work they don’t know. It is very shameful that they are grabbing land, they have been seen beating journalists.”
John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya Country said; “The UPDF had earned reputation next to none in terms of discipline, but we have received many complaints of human rights violation at the hands of UPDF, they have encroached on national parks, mining areas and other civil matters.”
Busia Municipality’s Geoffrey Macho said that because of UPDF treatment of Ugandans, he isn’t in position to allow any of his children to join the army. He also lashed out at the Ministers of Defence; Adolf Mwesige and his deputies Bright Rwamirama (State Minister for Veteran Affairs) and Sam Engola (Minister of State for Defence) for continuously eluding discussions on UPDF torture by refusing to attend plenary sittings where such matters are discussed.
However, Mwiru’s motion was opposed by Local Government Minister Tom Butime and Brig Gen Flavia Byekwaso (UPDF) who argued that the atrocities committed are carried out by individuals in the force not the institution of UPDF.
Speaker promised to announce how the investigation would be carried out.