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Parliament asked to guarantee safe env’t for sexual violence victims to testify

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga has called for thorough investigations into reports of sexual harassment of students, during a recent strike at Makerere University. He says the students need a conducive and safe environment in the aftermath of the tragedy that befell them.

Mpuuga, the Shadow Minister of Education, was appearing before the education committee of Parliament to justify a motion to institute a probe into the unrest that broke out at Makerere University on 22 October. The students were protesting against the implementation of a 15 percent tuition increment policy.

Mpuuga told the committee that although he does not have evidence that some female students were sexually harassed by security personnel in their halls of residence or hostels, MPs need to give victims a safe environment to share their experiences.

He told the committee that he had interacted with stakeholders including university management and students and established that the university management failed to listen to concerns of students. He castigated the Vice-Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe, for being insensitive, dismissive and quick to “tweet” decisions but slow to engage the students.

He faults the university management and council for not involving parents in the formulation of the tuition policy, which according to him, was erroneously considered.

The Committee vice-chairperson, John Twesigye says that it is important that the students tell MPs what really happened during the unrest including whether or not the university management abdicated its duty and if there is evidence that some female students were sexually harassed.

On October 31, 693 Makerere University students petitioned Parliament to intervene and among others recommend that the tuition policy is recalled, suspended students are reinstated and that sexual harassment claims are handled.

Mpuuga moved a motion that the education committee should be tasked to process the petition and among others look into the claims of sexual harassment, invasion of Mitchell and Lumumba Halls of residence by military officers.

The committee plans is to visit Makerere University to enrich its report. It is expected to present its report to Parliament by December 10th, 2019.

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