Arrest of Ugandan security forces demanded over alleged torture

Parliament speaker urges president to apprehend security officers for their alleged beatings of political detainees.

Uganda violence
Ugandan police fired bullets and tear gas to disperse a crowd of protesters demanding the release of jailed MPs [Ronald Kabuubi/AP]

The speaker of Uganda’s parliament called for the arrest of security agents involved in the suspected beating and torture of 33 people, including a popular musician-turned-opposition-MP.

Local pop star and parliamentarian Robert Kyagulanyi, best known by his stage name Bobi Wine, was among dozens of people detained after opponents pelted President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy with stones earlier this month.

Their lawyers and others have said detainees suffered beatings and torture – accusations the government rejected as “rubbish”.

In a letter to Museveni dated Monday, Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of parliament, said those responsible for any maltreatment of the arrested individuals must be brought to justice.

“I am concerned that no effort has been made to arrest the security officers from the special forces command, military police, and Uganda police force who were involved in the violent actions against unarmed civilians,” said Kadaga.

“This is therefore to demand that the officers concerned be apprehended at the earliest opportunity and presented in court. The Uganda parliament will not condone or acquiesce in acts of torture.”

Rising tensions

The arrests sparked two days of anti-government protests in the capital, Kampala, and other towns last week. On Monday, the Ugandan High Court granted bail to the 33 people, including Kyagulanyi.

The popular musician has emerged as an influential critic of Museveni after winning a seat in parliament last year.

The 36-year-old opposition legislator has used his music to address the country’s political and social issues.

Presidential spokesman Don Wanyama could not confirm whether Kadaga’s letter reached Museveni, but said the issues it purportedly raised had been handled.

“It was President Museveni who was the first to condemn the violence and shooting of civilians,” Wanyama told Reuters news agency.

“He ordered the arrest of police officers who shot dead a civilian in Mityana town,” Wanyama said, adding the president would respond once he received the letter.

In power since 1986, Museveni, 73, is accused of stifling dissent through intimidation, beatings, and detentions – allegations his government denies. 

Source: Reuters