Internal Affairs Minister Given One Month to Address Opposition’s Human Rights Concerns

The Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen David Muhoozi, has been given thirty days to respond to the Leader of the Opposition (LoP), Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, concerning alleged human rights abuses and shrinking civic space. Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa issued this directive during the plenary sitting on Thursday, 19 October 2023.

“I am going to engage both sides. LoP, I would request that by tomorrow, you avail the Minister with this information and then for us, we shall require the Minister to make a statement, in response with very clear details,” Tayebwa said.

Mpuuga dismissed the Minister’s statement, arguing that it was an attempt to justify repression and clamp down on political dissent in the country.

“I do not find the Minister’s statement tenable since it has fallen short of addressing the wanton abuse of human rights, the growing state of impunity, general breakdown of the rule of law, and the shrinking civic space, for that I invite this August House to reject that statement,” Mpuuga said.

He demanded accountability for the alleged murder of 22 supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP) during the campaign trail of the party president, Robert Kyagulanyi, in 2021.

“The relatives of the deceased are still reeling in bereavement with no hope of ever receiving justice for the death of their loved ones,” he said.

Mpuuga added that the government has ignored providing accountability and justice for 18 persons who have been missing for close to four years now.

“These persons were picked from their workplaces and homes by state security agencies. Detailed accounts of their arrest and eventual disappearance have been provided by families and friends. Only the state can account for their whereabouts,” he said.

Over the last three years, Mpuuga said that several Ugandans were arrested and detained without trial, citing that this represents one of the worst abuses of human rights.

“In 2021, over 500 NUP supporters were arrested in different parts of the country on various flimsy charges. Most of them were released after one year without trial; some had to pay a ransom to gain their freedom,” he said.

The Minister, however, said that he could not respond because the issues raised by the LOP were subjudice.

“The response could have been unsatisfactory but that does not close avenues for accountability. We have many avenues in which these issues can be addressed to their satisfaction,” said Muhoozi.

He added that the government will guarantee civic space to the opposition and all the citizens.

“That right is also not duty-free, it is not obligation neutral. The government believes in the rule of law, and we believe in constitutionalism,” Muhoozi said.