This statement was originally issued on hrnj-uganda.org on May 23, 2016.
Civil Society Organizations have called upon the Ugandan Government to conduct swift and transparent investigations into the recent wave of office break-ins targeting human rights organizations, which has escalated to killing of the guards on duty.
This follows the break-in of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) offices located in Bulange -a Kampala suburb, on 22nd May 2016, where unknown persons broke into the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director’s offices and made away with a number of documents. Other valuable items such as computers, laptops were left untouched which raises a lot of queries. The guard who was on duty that night was killed. The video footage shows four intruders in action.
HRAPF Executive Director, Adrian Jjuuko said the attack happened at night. That their TV set and all registration documents were stolen. He further stated that the matter was reported to police which took the body of the deceased guard.
The organizations include Chapter Four, Defend Defenders, Defenders Protection Initiative, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda, Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, Legal Aid Services Providers Network, SMUG, and the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders among others.
“We are deeply concerned about the series of break-ins that have targeted civil society organizations lately. The Ugandan government should ensure that those responsible for the brutal murder of HRAFP’S guard and the burglary are found and held accountable, and take steps to end this pattern of break-ins,” said Sheila Muwanga, Deputy Director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI).
The break in at HRAPF follows a trend of similar occurrences on organizations involved in human rights work. They include; HURINET-Uganda, ACCU, FHRI, EHAHRDP, AGHA, HRNJ-Uganda, AFODE, Uganda Land Alliance, the NGO Forum, among others. Recently, on 11th April 2016, unknown persons attempted to break into the HRNJ-Uganda offices where camera footage shows four attackers using a lady to sedate the night guard before accessing the premises, though they were unable to enter the office, but made away with padlocks, tea flask and a torch.
The Executive Director of East and Horn of Africa (Defend Defenders) Hassan Shire and HURINET-Uganda and Muhammed Ndifuna described this spate of attacks on human rights defenders as intended to disrupt the work done by human rights activists and called the different players to remain firm.
“We are greatly concerned about the selective attack and deliberate crack down on civil society organisations in Uganda. Government should thoroughly and expeditiously investigate these inexplicable incidences and bring them to logical conclusions.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.