in the media
Police on Sunday blocked opposition political party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) from delivering relief items to the Bududa mudslide victims.
The truck with a consignment comprising mainly of food items was intercepted in Buwangani town near the border of Manafwa and Bududa districts. Bududa district police commander Esther Adeke advised the FDC team led by former party president Kizza Besigye to deliver the supplies to the district disaster committee first that would then distribute the items to the victims depending on need.
It took the intervention of Besigye, Patrick Amuriat Oboi, the incumbent party president and FDC secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi to secure the release of the relief truck held for more than six hours.
About 60 bodies were recovered from Bududa after October 11 disaster when river Suume burst its banks triggering off floods that washed down everything in the path. Several people were left homeless and in need of essential items. Government emergency and relief response has been slow and inadequate, and even then, locals are accusing officials of misappropriating the little relief aid by selling it to the victims and traders.
Betty Aol Ochan, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LoP) says the police was informed that FDC top party members were travelling to Bududa to take relief items to the affected people.
"We were cleared by Bududa police to go and deliver the relief items to the Bududa mudslide victims but I am shocked that our truck... has been intercepted,'' she lamented.
Aol explained that there was an allegation that the relief items donated to the Bududa victims were being sold cheaply to the people within the community. Samuel Wanda, a resident of Bududa town reinforced the allegation and advised that the items should be taken direct to the affected people to avoid diversion .
Speaking during the handover of relief items donated by FDC on Sunday at Bukalasi sub-county headquarters, Godfrey Wanasolo, one of the victims said most of the items like food, blankets, cooking oil, mattress, saucepans and cups don't reach the intended beneficiaries.
He explained that since the relief items are first given to the district disaster management committee to deliver to them, they disappear before getting to the victims. Matiya Namaleya and Annet Wekoya, both mudslide victims, said they have evidence showing that most of the items are sold off by the local leaders to traders in the neighbouring Bududa town council.
They want donors and government to deliver the relief items directly to the mudslide victims. She said items like blankets, jerrycans, posho are sold at night to the victims and traders wishing to buy cheaply.
Besigye explained that they donated the relief on humanitarian and not political grounds. But Wilson Watira, the Bududa district chairperson accused the FDC leaders for exporting the defiance campaign to the district when they refused to follow the right channels for relief distribution.
He explained that the purpose of taking items to the district disaster management committee is to record and check the quality and safety of the items before they are handed to the victims.
He also refuted claims by the mudslide victims that local leaders are selling the relief items, saying whoever has evidence should be present it to his office for investigations. Watira is the head of the district disaster management committee.
The opposition political party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leadership has told the people of Bududa to reject any plans by the government to relocate them from their area, saying this could be a plot to take over their land.
Party leaders including president Patrick Amuriat Oboi, Nathan Nandala Mafabi the secretary general, party chairperson Wasswa Biriggwa, Leader of Opposition Betty Aol Ochan and former party president Kizza Besigye were in Bududa to deliver relief items to the October 11 Bududa mudslide disaster that killed over 50 people.
Besigye said living around the mountains would not be a threat to the people if the government had put in place sufficient measures to conserve the mountains. He says there are many countries in the world which have mountains which are much higher than those in Uganda but they rarely face mudslide problems.
Besigye added that in the early 60s, the colonial government planned and put terraces in the mountains in Kabale district. He says that the same idea needs to be replicated in the Mt Elgon areas.
“They have stolen everything in the country and its only land that is left to steal. Relocating you from your land could be a ploy to steal that land.” Besigye said.
After the 2010 mudslide disaster in the same area that killed an estimated 300 people, government bought land in Kiryandongo in western Uganda to relocate the people of Bududa to avoid a repeat of the disaster. However the relocation did not materialise due to rejection by the locals and corruption by the officials in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) who were in charge of the relocation.
When President Yoweri Museveni visited Bukalasi sub-county on October 14 after the mudslide, the chairperson of Bududa district, Wilson Watira told him to expedite the plans of relocating people to safer areas. Museveni apologised to the people of Bududa and said he'd been misled on the relocation of the people from the mudslide-prone areas. He however did not elaborate on how he was misled and by whom.
Besigye asserted that the biggest problem in Uganda is the lack of systems that can preserve the environment. He says the mudslides would not have claimed lives if there were warning systems to alert people about any impending calamity.
FDC president Oboi faulted the government for failing to conserve the mountains and hills in Bududa, exposing the population to landslides. He said the people of Bududa must stand against any plan to be relocated and fight for their land saying that they shouldn't leave their wealth behind.
"The mudslide that killed our people would have been avoided. These mountains here can be conserved but Museveni doesn’t want to conserved. He wants to force people of Bukalasa to leave their beautiful land, their fertile lands out of sheer negligence. For me, I think its a plan by Museveni to ensure that you people leave here but the question is, who does want this land to be left for? Mu dear people we have to stand firm, we have to protect our land.
President Yoweri Museveni has issued security guidelines to police and security agencies on how to manage and handle rioters, criminals, suspects. The president urged the police and other security to respect the rights of criminals but said they should be firm while handling rioters who disrupt business and traffic.
He went as far as saying that while shooting down of rioters may chase away tourists especially from the West, others from Russia, China and Arabia will gladly come into the country because it will be more stable.
Below is Museveni's statement
Re: Guidelines on managing rioters, terrorists, criminals and looters and methods of arresting and handling suspects
I am writing to guide you and the public on the two issues of managing rioters, terrorists, criminals and looters on the one hand and on the issue of the proper methods of arresting suspects and handling them, while in custody, on the other hand.
The fundamental starting point is the NRA principle of being an army of the people, the masses (the farmers, the factory workers, the patriotic public servants and the Ugandans that are struggling to get a foothold in the emerging money economy) but also serving well the law-abiding foreigners that visit our country.
Each of these is like our father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter or grandchild if they are Ugandans. If they are not Ugandans, then they are our honoured guests – amafura.
These must never be beaten, pushed or be barked at for any reason. They should, if it is required, be advised (okuhabura) or be restrained if they are trying to go to an area where they are not supposed to be.
How do you advise? By talking politely to them. How do you restrain? By stretching out your arms, while your rifle is slung at the back (not pointing a rifle at the people), indicating to the crowd that they should not go beyond a certain point. Restraining members of the public from accessing certain areas can also involve barriers or ropes.
You should never push (kutsindika) people that are enthusiastically surging forward to show support for the NRM or the President.
You should never kuteera ebigaanja (hitting on the chest of an approaching person with open palms) any member of the public. Therefore, the bodyguards of public officials should strictly observe these rules. They are part of the NRA Code of Conduct. They are not a new composition. The law-abiding Ugandans will respond positively and co-operate. These are a consequence of our philosophy which says that the Africans are one big family.
The above are for the law-abiding citizens of Uganda or our guests. There are, however, rioters, criminals, looters, terrorists and traitors. Here we are guided by the legitimate aims of the security forces. What are these aims?
They are five and they are: protect the lives of Ugandans from the acts of the law-breakers; protect the property of the Ugandans; do not allow anybody to disrupt markets, centres of worship, legitimate political rallies, legitimate concert gatherings, etc.; do not allow anybody to use lies to incite the public with misinformation; and vigorously hunt and apprehend the suspected criminals. On these, there is no compromise. Why? It is for three reasons.
Number one – no Ugandan should lose his life or property on account of the acts of these criminals.
Secondly, the transport of Uganda, the markets of Uganda and any other legitimate and legal assemblies of our people should never be interfered with by these criminals.
Thirdly, the image of Uganda as a stable country, good for Ugandans, tourism and investments, should never be disturbed. Firm action against trouble-makers, if manipulated by the Press of those who seek hegemony over Africa, may worry the public and frighten away tourism from some of the areas.
This will be compensated for by tourists from China, Russia, Arabia, etc. Therefore, nobody should be allowed to threaten the lives of Ugandans or their property or the image of Uganda. In the end, the Ugandans will be very happy and so will the foreigners, investors and, eventually, the tourists from all sources. Uganda should not only appear to be stable. It should be stable.
Indeed, Uganda has been stable for a long time. It will remain stable. Therefore, nobody should be allowed to threaten life, property or orderliness (obuteeka) in Uganda. If you are a critic, do so truthfully and peacefully.
How, then, do you firmly and non-lethally control rioters? I think the use of water cannons is the best way – it is strong, non-lethal and not noisy; tear-gas, rubber bullets should be discouraged because they are noisy and, sometimes, they can affect unconcerned people.
All the Police forces in the world have shields and short sticks known as batons which they use to disperse hostile crowds. I have seen the Indian Police with long and knob-less (without eifuundo) sticks which they use to disperse crowds.
Which is better – the short stick or the long one and why? The Police leaders can guide us here. The water cannons, the shields, the short sticks and the long knob-less sticks are all to deal with crowds that are assembling illegally or are threatening to kill people or damage property. The role of the shields is clear. It is to protect the Police from being harmed by flying stones or other missiles (bottles, etc).
If, however, the rioters do not stop after the Police use of shields and sticks (whether long or short) and, if the water cannons that are very effective are not available, then, the Police can use live bullets by first firing in the air; but, if the rioters persist, the Police will fire directly at the rioters to protect the lives and property of the law-abiding citizens or protect themselves from the rioters.
Therefore, those who speak about this subject should know that rioters, under certain conditions, can be shot legally and can also be beaten legally and legitimately.
It is, therefore, a serious miscalculation by the opportunist and criminal leaders to manipulate young people into such situations. Why do they not send their sons and daughters to riot?
When it comes to suspected terrorists or murderers, running away from the arresting team is a serious mistake. You will be shot. Why? If the Police do not disable you or kill you, they may never get another chance to catch you so that you answer for your crimes.
In the meantime, the criminal may commit more crimes. Therefore, shooting a terrorist who is running away from the security forces trying to arrest him/her, is in order not to allow him/her to escape from the forum where accountability is possible (by being tried in the courts of law) and also to protect the public against further crimes.
On the side of the security forces, I am reminding you to never do the following:
(a) Push people who surge forward towards leaders out of enthusiasm (kutangirira); you should restrain them (kuzibira) but not push them;
(b) You should never bark at people (kubogolela); you should advise them (kuhabura);
(c) On rioters, you should use water cannons if they are available; if they are not available, you should use shields and sticks (short and long) as the Police will guide; tear-gas and rubber bullets are, of course, non-lethal but they are noisy; however, they cannot be ruled out;
(d) If the rioters persist and threaten life or property, you can use live bullets, first firing in the air and, eventually, if necessary, firing at the rioters;
(e) Once rioters are arrested or any other criminal, he/she should never be beaten by stick, fist or rifle butt. It is unfair, unnecessary and gives a bad image to the country.
It is not necessary because what you want is for this criminal to pay for his sins. How? By being tried and sentenced. You do not have to beat him or maim him.
He will be punished by being imprisoned or even hanged, if he is sentenced. You should, therefore, not play in the criminal’s hands by beating him/her so that he gains public sympathy.
In what capacity are you beating the criminal? Are you the punisher? You are not. Your job is to detect, investigate, arrest and interrogate the suspect by using the facts of your investigations. Even if the criminal denies, the facts will pin him down.
Constitutionally, the punishers of criminals in Uganda are the courts of law. Their punishments include long terms of imprisonment, fining wrong doers or even hanging them. Therefore, security personnel do not meddle and spoil the process. Just do your part.
(f)The arresting officers should always identify themselves so that the public knows that they are legal operators.
That is what I told all of you in my letter against torture of the 15th May, 2017. Therefore, the security personnel should be patient, restrained but also firm. If the criminal resists arrest, wrestle him down and handcuff him.
If he strikes you, strike back hard with fist until he stops attacking you. If he tries to use a knife, a gun, a club or any dangerous missile when you are in close proximity, shoot him so as to disable him.
If he is threatening to harm wanainchi or destroy property, shoot him after due warning. It is, therefore, not necessary to make mistakes. You can be firm and decisive without making mistakes.
Those who support rioters, tell them, not to endanger our people’s lives, not to endanger the lives of the security personnel and not to endanger our people’s property.
The security person who was seen using a rifle butt may have made a mistake. When I inquired, the concerned people told me that the suspect had bitten him (okuruma). That is very serious because some of the criminals have got infectious diseases.
Our officer can be infected in that way and that should be an extra charge put on him. The appropriate response would have been to box him hard so that he stops biting our officer.
That would be self-defence which is very legitimate. Hitting him with a rifle butt after he has stopped biting you, however, is both vengeance and also usurping the role of the punisher (the courts).
The involvement of the SFC, Military Police and CMI in handling law and order issues has been caused by the kawukumi (bean weevils) that had invaded the Police. Otherwise, they should not have been involved and they were never involved. I commend them because the main aims of the government were achieved: to protect the lives of Ugandans and their property.
The image of the country was somewhat affected. That, however, will be repaired. What is crucial is the country to be stable and not just to appear stable. Nevertheless, for logical and legal reasons, the army and the other security forces can, if required, backup the Police in Law and Order Management.
The non-Police security personnel, if they are to be involved at all, will be sensitized about the rational procedure. All I am saying above is simple logic of how to deal with friendly and hostile crowds, hostile individuals threatening the lives of Ugandans, the lives of the security personnel, the property of Ugandans, legitimate public gatherings and the image of Uganda as tourism and investment destinations and also the image of Uganda as a safe place.
These measures are not only rational but most of them are already part of the SOPs (Standard Operational Procedures) of the Police, part of the Police Act and also part of the UN Conventions. If they were not part of the law, we would have long ago made them so.
Indeed, the UN Conventions provide that if the non-lethal methods of the Police are not effective, then the following actions should be taken as is indicated below:
The Chief Justice Bart Katureebe has expressed dismay at the approach used by the Commission of Inquiry into land matters to communicate its findings of judicial excesses in catalyzing land distress across the country.
Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the chairperson of the Commission issued the statement on Friday, October 26, citing wanton abuse of the criminal justice system and connivance between judges and land grabbers.
"…The Commission of Inquiry has encountered a rising number of orders, rulings, judgments, and injunctions entered by judicial officers which have led to the eviction of thousands of bibanja holders or the giving away of land protected by gazette as a forest or wetland," the statement read.
She cited a recent judgment in which Justice Godfrey Namundi ordered that about one square mile that is part of Kajjansi central forest reserve belonged to Eria Mubiru, Vivian Keza and Peninah Busingye Kabingani, simply because they have land titles over the land.
"This ruling was made in spite of the fact that a copy of the Legal Notices gazetting the forest, dated 1932, 1948, 1968 and 1998, were tendered as evidence before the court. The judge declared National Forestry Authority (NFA) trespassers on the "forest reserve" because they had attempted to stop the encroachment," Bamugemereire said.
She added that the judgment carries the role of degazetting a central forest reserve - which role is the sole preserve of the parliament of Uganda and not the High court of the Judiciary.
Bamugemereire further noted up to four court orders which have been granted over Namanve forest reserve where titles were issued on an existent forest reserve. This triggered off a stand-off between Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) and National Forest Authority (NFA) rangers with private security guards deployed.
"In this case, the court directed the commissioner of land registration to create hitherto non-existent plots in the forest reserve. Some judges and high-level government officers have been named in this forest reserve grab," she said.
The Commission noted that speculators who get insider information on where future projects will be situated, desire titles in areas such as central forest reserves hoping to be paid astronomical compensation arising out the infrastructural project over such areas. The preceding area is one such area bringing a convergence of projects such as the Bukasa port, the Standard Gauge Railway, among others.
However, in a press release issued today, Katureebe raised concern with the mode used by the Commission to communicate matters concerning the Judiciary with the chief justice saying that the Commission's findings would have been communicated through an interim report to the president, and not a press release.
"The Judiciary, as well as the government, would have studied that report and taken appropriate action, including giving the officers mentioned in there an opportunity to defend themselves. Nonetheless, we will further study the press release and try to work on it appropriately. Any judicial officer found to have acted outside the law will be dealt with accordingly," said the chief justice.
The Judiciary further says that it takes the issues raised in the Commission statement seriously and would and that they would appreciate if the issues are properly investigated to establish the facts and make appropriate recommendations for a lasting solution.
In the same statement, Principal Judge, Dr Yorokamu Bamwine, says that actions of a few judicial officers should not be used to brand the entire Judiciary a culprit.
"Lately, we are encouraging judicial officers to conduct judicial processes in a more transparent manner so as to enhance public trust and confidence in the Judiciary," said Bamwine.