Ugandan safety forces raided the places of work of an opposition political occasion on the eve of the Could 26, 2022, by-election in Omoro County in Northern Uganda, Human Rights Watch mentioned as we speak. The safety forces beat occasion supporters and arbitrarily detained not less than 13 opposition supporters that evening, and on election day.
The Omoro parliamentary by-election was to fill the seat beforehand held by Jacob Oulanyah, the parliament speaker, following his dying on March 22. The Electoral Fee declared Oulanyah’s son, Andrew Ojok, of the ruling Nationwide Resistance Motion (NRM), the winner with 83.3 p.c of the vote.
“The abuses in Omoro mirror the identical sample of abuse towards the opposition, as throughout all of Uganda’s latest elections, for which nobody has been prosecuted,” mentioned Oryem Nyeko, Uganda researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities must take pressing measures to finish these persistent and repressive abuses and guarantee accountability.”
The authorities ought to guarantee immediate, efficient investigations into the myriad violations that characterised the by-election, and maintain these discovered culpable for violations to account.
Witnesses informed Human Rights Watch that at round 8:30 p.m. on Could 25, about 17 armed troopers stormed the places of work of the Discussion board for Democratic Change (FDC) occasion in Opit, a city heart 10 kilometers from the Omoro district headquarters in Lalogi sub-county, the place about 50 occasion officers had gathered forward of voting the subsequent day. The troopers assaulted occasion officers, beat them, stole cash, and confiscated paperwork.
Rose Nyapolo, an FDC official, mentioned the troopers hit her in her left eye, quickly blinding her, and took 150,000 Uganda shillings ($US40) from her bag. “The troopers didn’t need anyone to be within the workplace,” Nyapolo mentioned. “They threatened to kill the one one who had remained within the workplace. All of us scattered.”
A minimum of two FDC officers had been arrested in the course of the raid. The officers detained Austin Lubangakene, the FDC common secretary, transferred him briefly to Opit police put up, after which drove him 40km to Gulu in a minibus, infamously recognized in Uganda as a “Drone.” Contained in the “Drone,” the officers punched and kicked Lubangakene within the ribs, pressured him to lie on his abdomen, and positioned tires on his head, again, and legs to maintain him pinned to the car flooring.
Lubangakene informed Human Rights Watch that the troopers would drive at a excessive pace for a number of kilometers then cease abruptly and query him. They repeated this a number of instances and mentioned to him, “Do you folks suppose you’re nonetheless going to win [the by-election]? What if proper now we inform you to vote for [NRM candidate Andrew] Ojok?”
At round 11p.m., about 30 meters from the FDC workplace in Opit, armed males detained a Chua West opposition legislator, Okin Ojara, and his driver, Dan Okot, at a roadblock at Opit centre and held them briefly on the Opit police put up, then took them in a “Drone” to Gulu central police station. Ojara informed Human Rights Watch that he was detained after he and his driver arrived on the FDC places of work in response to misery calls concerning the raid.
At across the identical time, about 20 police and army officers detained one other FDC opposition chief, Stephen Okumu, at a roadblock in Lakwana sub-county, as he was using a bike to his residence. The officers held Okumu in a single day, on the Opit police put up, and launched him at round 5 p.m. the subsequent day with out cost. Okumu informed Human Rights Watch that a few of the officers informed him they’d been instructed to detain him however didn’t say why.
On Could 26, the police spokesperson informed the media the detentions aimed to forestall makes an attempt at sabotaging the voting in Omoro that day.
Police detained extra folks on election day morning. At round 9 a.m., police and armed masked safety forces in civilian garments detained David Kalwanga Lukyamuzi, a parliament member with the principle opposition occasion, the Nationwide Unity Platform (NUP); Peter Maiso, a celebration official; Badru Simbwa, Lukyamuzi’s private assistant; Fahad Wezinda, Lukyamuzi’s driver; and an area information solely recognized as Odongkara, as they drove away from a polling place in Orapwoyo village the place they’d gone to look at the voting.
The officers held them at Lalogi police station, the place they beat Maiso, who had pleaded with the officers to not torture them, and assaulted Lukyamuzi. “They had been squeezing me, like they needed to interrupt my fingers and legs. Even now – I’m not feeling properly,” Lukyamuzi mentioned.
The officers drove Lukyamuzi in a “Drone” to the Gulu central police station, whereas the others remained detained in Lalogi. The 5 had been charged with “inciting violence” after which launched on bond round 7 p.m. David Lewis Rubongoya, the NUP secretary common, informed Human Rights Watch that not less than 60 of their election observers had been detained in the course of the voting.
In what’s now a standard sample round elections, the Ugandan authorities deploy safety forces to limit the political opposition. Within the weeks main as much as the 2021 common elections, the police and army focused opposition occasion leaders and their supporters, journalists, protesters, and activists, beating and arbitrarily detaining them, in lots of cases with out trial. Though Ugandan safety forces have for years been implicated in severe human rights violations, the authorities have hardly ever investigated the abuses.
“The Ugandan authorities ought to instantly finish all types of harassment and intimidation of opposition supporters, members, and leaders, together with releasing these detained, and dropping all bogus costs,” Nyeko mentioned. “As an alternative, the authorities ought to respect and defend primary rights, always, and guarantee respect for the rule of legislation.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).
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