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Lawyers concerned over extra-judicial killings

Police Spokesman Fred Enanga announced suspected ADF terrorists have been killed. He said they tried to escape arrest.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Muslim Lawyers Association – UMLA has condemned the extra judicial killings of terrorism suspects in the country.

The call comes at the time when at least eight suspected terrorists have been shot dead under suspicious circumstances by security officers during counter terrorism operations in a spate of five months.

The eight who all happen to be Muslims include; Mohammed Nsubuga , Manihaji, Master Lubwama, Juma Saidi, Juma Sserwadda,  Amin Kawawa Mustapha, Moses Mudasiri and most recently Sheikh Muhammad Abbas Kirevu who was shot dead by security officers on November 18th 2021.

In the case of Sheikh Kirevu, there have been contradicting statements from police and family regarding how he met his death with his family members saying that he was picked from his home, handcuffed and shot dead in front of children; while the police indicate that the deceased was gunned down as he was trying to escape arrest in Nsangi, Wakiso District.

However, in a statement released by Uganda Muslim Lawyers Association – UMLA, the Advocates contend that it is unlawful for any person to be killed before they can be heard on their side of the story by a competent court.

“We appeal to every Ugandan to support the Police in their investigations to ensure that justice prevails and peace and security of our country is maintained,” reads in part the statement signed by UMLA President Ali Kankaka and the Association’s Secretary General Mahmoud Kakeeto.

It adds that the lawyers are hopeful that police and other security agencies will approach the investigations objectively to avoid biased and premature conclusions that have a chilling effect and criminalization of Muslims by reason of the Islamic names of those alleged to be involved in these crimes.

“Whereas we are repulsed by the senseless crimes it is offensive to the Muslim community for persons to attribute these crimes to our faith, and expect Muslims to always apologize for terror attacks undertaken by individuals and with which we have no connection. Perpetuating this narrative is ill informed and is calculated to assign collective guilt against vulnerable Muslims”, the statement adds.

They now want police to carry out independent, impartial and quick investigations and make a report to the public and those found culpable to be prosecuted in accordance with the law.

“On previous occasions, many Muslims were arrested, tortured and charged with terrorism related offenses only for the State to withdraw the charges against the accused who had been incarcerated for more than 5 years and convicted in the public court”, the lawyers add.

The statement further shows that such investigatory and prosecutorial maneuvers increase the pressure exerted in the public life of Muslims.

“Muslim voices are thus uniquely kept out of public debate unless they are apologizing for some atrocity they had nothing to do with. This must and ought to stop otherwise Muslims will continue to be ostracized and alienated in their own Country”, it states.

The Publicity Secretary for UMLA Luyimbazi Nalukoola says that the inevitable consequence of this is that every Muslim is placed under suspicion of either being a terrorist or being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise.

Nalukoola alleges that when it comes to issues of sharing a national cake, one may think that the Muslims’ share is in prison saying that most of the suspects on terrorism charges are Muslims. He adds that they will soon be petitioning court to challenge what he described as gross human rights violations.

The President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has in the recent past indicated that most of the people who were shot dead during the security operations were either trying to resist arrest or had turned violent against the arresting officers.

Majority of the seven suspects were killed following the murder of Haruna Kayondo and Brenda Nantongo who were the driver and daughter to Transport and Works Minister General Katumba Wamala respectively.



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