BY SMN REPORTER
KAMPALA, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) has noted with concern the high-handed nature with which the Uganda Police Force (UPF) handled the opposition candidates and supporters before and after the nomination exercise. CCEDU condemns the violence and brutality that marred the second day of the presidential candidates’ nomination exercise that started on November 2, 2020.
In a Press Statement issued by the CCEDU Executive Director Charity Ahimbisibwe Kaleebo, CCEDU noted that since the 2001 electoral process, the Police has been known to perpetuate acts of torture in electoral processes and yet both the Human Rights Enforcement Act and the Anti-Torture Act guarantee the entrenchment of human rights in the way Police enforces law and order. “The Acts emphasize personal liability of Police Officers who violate the rights of Ugandans. The Police officials who engaged in acts of violence and torture should be identified and subjected to the due course of the law. Some Police officers were seen throwing tear gas canisters in the faces of opposition supporters,” said Ahimbisibwe.
CCEDU said the Police was supposed to respect the rights of Patrick Amuriat and Robert Kyagulanyi in as far as being nominated and associating with their supporters were concerned. “CCEDU condemns the brutality that was meted on Kyagulanyi as a person by the Police and that which was perpetuated on Patrick Amuriat.
She said that CCEDU condemns, in uncertain terms the police brutality that was meted against supporters of the opposition and opposition candidates, to the extent that a young girl was shot in the forehead. “This young girl is the second female to be injured in the opposition by the Police. On Monday, February 24, 2020, Ugandans received the sad news of the passing of a young soul Rita Nabukenya who died under unclear circumstances due to politics and on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, Ugandans received more news of a shooting of a People Power supporter, Dan Kyeyune who was shot dead by a Local Defence Unit officer who was travelling on a Police Patrol UP 2570,” said Ahimbisibwe.
She said that up to now the Police has not accounted for these two deaths, but CCEDU and its partners compiled a report and submitted it to the Universal Peer Review Mechanism Committee for review, with the view of bringing the perpetuators to book.
“The violence and acts of brutality perpetuated by the Police were observed in the areas of Kansanga, to the extent that people who were listening to local radios, their radios were confiscated by the Police. Even listening to radio is a crime?” mused Ahimbisibwe.
CCEDU also observed that violence was also observed in Kireka, Kisekka Market area and down town; plus Buddo – as people celebrated the nomination of their candidate they were greeted by tear gas.
Kasangati and Kamwokya were a full battle zone with the Police at times firing live bullets to disperse the supporters of Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu.
In Iganga, the Police confiscated the posters of candidate Kyagulanyi which is an infringement on his right to popularise his campaign. The posters surely breached no security protocol.
“The Police applied selective application of the law when it came to the nomination of candidates and their supporters. On November 2, 2020, CCEDU observed that on Kitante road, Shoprite store Lugogo, Game store Lugogo, at the NRM office along the road and in Nakawa, NRM supporters were left to express their support for their candidate Yoweri K Museveni,” said Ahimbisibwe. Adding further; “They drove through the city centre to Munyonyo where the NRM manifesto was launched without any interruption from the Police. When Police continues to display double standards, the ground continues to be unlevelled between candidates and yet Article 21 of the Constitution of Uganda provides that: (1) All persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life and in every other respect and shall enjoy equal protection of the law.”
CCEDU observed that there was no equal protection of political actors under the law even when the Electoral Commission handed security to each candidate that was nominated that security did not guarantee the safety of Patrick Amuriat and Robert Kyagulanyi.
Although the 2020/2021 Electoral process is being conducted under a pandemic (COVID-19) the Freedom of association – one of the fundamental tenets of a free and fair process should not be threatened. Freedom of association is the right of persons to join together in groups in order to pursue common objectives or interests.
Freedom of association is one of the most basic rights enjoyed by humans. It ensures that every individual is free to organise and to form and participate in groups, either formally or informally even during elections.
It is unfortunate, that Presidential candidates who were deemed important by the Electoral Commission and the electorate were treated inhumanly during their nomination.
Rule of law is one of the six indicators of good governance, but judging from the events that characterised the political scene yesterday; steps in a backward direction were registered as regards the rule of law.
Seeing that the credibility of the electoral process is at stake; CCEDU calls on the Electoral Commission and the Police to work towards levelling the playing field for all candidates.
CCEDU also calls for a reform in the Presidential Elections Act to the effect that Nominated Presidential Candidates should enjoy the immunity a president enjoys. This will tackle the problem of inhumane treatment of presidential candidates. Kizza Besigye a former candidate in elections from 2001 was treated like Patrick Amuriat and Robert Kyagulanyi in previous elections.