Opposition Presents Demands for Human Rights Reforms

opposition leader mpuuga demands answers on missing persons and human rights violations
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The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr. Mathias Mpuuga, and his fellow legislators have articulated four specific demands during a plenary sitting on December 5, 2023 In response to the government’s statement addressing concerns over human rights abuses.

Firstly, the Opposition is urging the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners held in various jails and unauthorized detention facilities without trial. According to Mr. Mpuuga, the lack of trials raises questions about the government’s evidence and suggests an attempt to restrict civil liberties, particularly association with the Opposition.

The second demand entails the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry, preferably chaired by a High Court judge, to thoroughly investigate human rights violations. Mr. Mpuuga emphasized that such a commission should possess the necessary authority, independence, and resources to uncover the truth, hold those accountable, and ensure justice is served.

The third demand calls for the creation of a Select Committee tasked with investigating cases involving rape, defilement, property destruction, murders, and unwarranted arrests, among other crimes. This committee aims to address and rectify a range of reported offenses.

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Finally, the Opposition is advocating for individuals currently facing military trials to be transferred to civil courts, following a Constitutional Court directive from December 15, 2022.

The Opposition’s rejoinder, presented during the plenary session, is a direct response to the government’s statement on November 29, which aimed to address concerns raised by the Opposition regarding human rights abuses and missing persons in the country.

As part of their demand for answers, the Opposition chose to boycott House plenary sittings until the government provides an account for citizens whose whereabouts are unknown to their families and respective political parties.

In the government’s initial response, Gen David Muhoozi, the State Minister for Internal Affairs, explained the challenges faced by the Uganda Police Force in investigating alleged missing persons. Despite the government’s commitment to addressing misconduct within law enforcement and security agencies, the Opposition maintains its call for comprehensive reforms.

The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, emphasized the need to advise the government on the way forward based on the known information about human rights violations. Suggestions were made to involve the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee in addressing the raised concerns.

In light of these developments, the House’s presiding officers are scheduled to meet with a team from the Uganda Human Rights Commission and Mr. Mpuuga to discuss the concerns in detail. Ms. Among assured the legislators that she would raise some of these concerns with the head of the Executive before providing a response at a later date.

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