Following the video clip that had circulated on social media on 24th February 2019, in which a traffic officer identified as Esther Namaganda was assaulted by Uganda’s Ambassador to Burundi Maj Gen Matayo Kaligonza, two bodyguards were arrested by the Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) as investigations are underway.
The action taken by the UPDF has been commended by many, however, the Executive Director Foundation for Human Rights Initiative Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana questions the application of the law onto some while others are left to go scot-free.
“It is not only the bodyguards that were involved even Maj Gen Kyaligoza was involved. Therefore, the law must apply equally. There shouldn’t be selective application of the law,” Dr. Sewanyana said.
“He should be held accountable and disciplinary action by the highest appointing authority should be taken against him because he does not serve as a good example of a disciplined officer who is ready to respect the law and others,” He added.
The two officers currently detained at Makindye Military barracks are Lance Corporal Peter Bushindiki and Private John Robert Okurut who appeared in the video holding traffic officer Namaganda by the neckline of her uniform.
The army spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemeire regretted the incident and extended apologizes in a tweet.
Dr. Fred Sekindi, a human rights defender and also the Director of Research and advocacy at FHRI does not differ with Dr. Sewanyana’s view.
“It is important that we respect the rule of law. It is important that every person regardless of their position is made answerable to the purported crime or incident. It is not right for junior officers to be arrested and charged and for their commanding officer whose instructions they were acting on to walk away scot free,” Dr. Senkindi said.
The human rights activists argue that for the security agencies to promote the rule of law, the courts of law ought to alert the public about what sort of punishment is given to the law offenders.
Ugly scenes from a video that was circulating on social media where UPDF soldiers were assaulting a female traffice officer on Sunday 24th Feb 2019 in Seeta.
The alleged assault has been condemned by various people including the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga who said such “conduct is unacceptable for a leader”, and asked the Inspector General of police Okoth Ochola to promote Officer Namaganda.
Foundation for Human rights Initative in its statement released on 25th February 2019, condemns Major General Kyaligonza’s conduct.
“This brutal and egregious assault is one of the many recent acts of impunity by state security agents highlighting a trend for the disregard of rule of law and the role of state institutions. Impunity by state security agents has reached acute levels and requires urgent remedial actions from the Government.
FHRI condemns in the highest terms acts of impunity by state security agents and calls for the perpetrators, regardless of rank or standing in society, to be brought to account. FHRI calls for an expeditious inquiry into the incident, by the mandated state institutions to ensure that justice is served to the policewoman and journalist who were both assaulted in the course of their duties,”… Read a section of the statement.
The Police has created two task teams to pursue the matter, which include; the Kampala Metropolitan Police (KMP) Traffic Commander who will investigate the conduct of the driver, for inconsiderate use of the road; and another team under the CID Commander KMP to investigate the charges of assault and wilful obstruction of an officer on official duty. The team is also investigating an additional complaint of assault from a UBC Journalist, Peter Otai, who was allegedly assaulted while capturing the incident on video.