Reporting Constraints Impact Missing Persons Investigations, says Minister of State for Internal Affairs

The Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi, informed Parliament that a majority of the purported missing persons have never been officially reported to the police. He delivered this statement during the plenary sitting on Wednesday, 29 November 2023, in response to concerns raised by the Leader of the Opposition (LOP), Mathias Mpuuga, regarding the shrinking civic space and enforced disappearances.

Muhoozi, presenting a statement signed by his senior minister, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Kahinda Otafiire, emphasized the legal requirement for filing a missing person’s report with the police before someone can be declared missing. He noted that in several instances where disappearances were attributed to security operatives, cases had been reported earlier by relatives as unwitnessed disappearances.

The minister highlighted specific cases, such as Kasumba George and Kisembo Godfrey, where the alleged disappearances were reported by family members before Mpuuga’s statement. Regarding Kibalama John Bosco, Muhoozi mentioned that his abandoned vehicle was found along the road with all belongings intact, including a mobile phone, laptop, and iPad.

Muhoozi pointed out inconsistencies in the numbers and testimonies related to reported disappearances, as presented to various bodies like the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights. He mentioned that the next of kin of the alleged missing persons declined to cooperate with the police investigators, hindering the conclusion of investigations.

Refuting accusations of victimization of Muslims, Muhoozi provided statistics from the Uganda Prisons Service as of 30 September 2023, indicating that Muslims constitute only 16.4 percent of inmates, behind Catholics at 41.3 percent and Protestants at 29.5 percent.

Mpuuga requested an opportunity to make a rejoinder to the minister’s statement on Tuesday, 05 December 2023, and Speaker Anita Among agreed that Parliament would decide on the report after considering the LOP’s rejoinder.