Police, ISO torture cases
Solomon Asiimwe, a senior lecturer of governance at the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Uganda Martyrs University told The Independent that it is not a good sign when the public loses confidence in the police specifically.
“Police is supposed to keep law and order in society and, therefore, it’s the closest security institution the people run to. When people lose confidence, we might also get many people dying and end up not bothering to report.”
Asiimwe says the interference of other security agencies in police work explains the loss of public confidence in the police. The Uganda Police is currently run by cadres brought in from the Uganda People’s Defence Forces. Most of its intelligence work is done by the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) which has built a reputation for operating outside the law with impunity. Its officers, in civilian attire and no identification can pounce on anyone, anywhere and beat them up before bundling them in waiting cars with fake number plates. The Uganda Law Society has said it will sue ISO over several incidents of alleged torturing of civilians in detention dungeons; the so-called ‘safe houses.’
“Alinda’s death has ended up taking on political undertones because of his connection to Bobi Wine,” Asiimwe said.
MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi agreed with Asiimwe. He said there are many security agencies in the country which seem to be doing similar work and there seems to be an attempt at a cover-up of the cause of Zigy Wyne’s death. He said police appears cornered.
“This is a classic case of a cover-up that even the smartest of security agencies in the world would find difficult to do,” he said.
But Don Wanyama, the president’s senior press secretary says the media has given a free-ride to Bobi Wine’s People Power group.
“Uganda has a client media,” he told The Independent on Aug.12, “That is why even after police did a good job in assembling the pieces of evidence that leads to one possible result; an accident, the media has not reverted to Bobi Wine’s camp to own up or apologise to the nation.
Wanyama said police’s loss of public trust is nothing new.
“Even President Museveni has spoken about it,” he said.
When asked to comment, Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) told The Independent on Aug.12 that the Zigy Wyne affair speaks volumes about the level of mistrust within the Ugandan public.
Sewanayana attributes the current fiasco to the inability of the police to deliver on its promises of investigating similar cases.
“Zigy’s death is one of many that have happened even when police promised the country that it is investigating and it appears we will never know the truth about Zigy Wyne’s death,” Sewanyana says.
Sewanyana lists some of these cases including the late Ronald Ssebulime who was shot dead by police for allegedly trailing State Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Ida Nantaba, Yasin Kawuma ( former MP Kyagulanyi’s driver) who was shot dead a year ago days before the Arua Municipality by-election.
Sewanyana also recalls how the state blackmailed former FDC president, Kizza Besigye, accusing him of raping Joanita Kyakuwa ahead of the 2006 presidential election.
Sewanyana told The Independent that this is all happening because Uganda’s law enforcement agencies have become too partisan; yet in such instances, the truth is supposed to come from the government. He says this problem needs to be addressed especially as Uganda heads towards the 2021 general election. The responsibility of the state is to protect citizens and their property, Sewanyana says.
“Until the state regains that responsibility, it will be difficult for the public to regain people’s trust in institutions like the police,” Sewanyana says, “As we count down to 2021, this problem needs to be addressed; otherwise Uganda is heading towards danger.”
Facts are likely to be made up or twisted to misinform or deceive, traditional and new media – print, electronic, and online – is likely to be exploited or manipulated, and authenticity of images on TV and photographs is likely to be doubted.
Allegations of torture in Bobi Wine statement on Zigy Wyne death
August 2018: Bobi Wine arrested and tortured alongside more than 36 other Ugandan political leaders and activists. They are charged with treason.
May 14, 2019: Raphael Walugembe, a People Power coordinator and student of Nkozi University shot dead in Nateete under suspicious circumstances.
May 20, 2019: Joshua William Mukisa, one of the People Power candidates in the Makerere University guild election is kidnapped, only to reappear with severe torture marks. Likewise, Ashburg Katto who also works with People Power media team was kidnapped and later dumped at the roadside.
May 22, 2019: People Power supporter and coordinator Okot P’ Bitek Junior sustained grave injuries after being shot in Amolatar District by a UPDF solider.
May 23, 2019, Rashid Ssebulime, a local leader in Kawempe Division in Kampala was attacked and his house set ablaze. He sustained severe injuries.
June 03, 2019: People Power mobilizer from Busiro North constituency, John Bosco Kibalama was abducted and as of Aug.05, his whereabouts were unknown.
June 04, 2019: People Power coordinator and popular artiste Lucky Bosmic Otim was severely brutalised by the police in Gulu District.
June 07, 2019: People Power mobiliser and LC 5 Councilor for Buvuma District, Lukoma Stephen Ssalongo was shot dead.
“These are only few of the many supporters and comrades who have been victims of targeted attacks. We have received reports of people being arrested and detained for putting on either the red beret or t-shirts branded with our symbols or slogans.” – MP Ssentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.