Uganda: Burglary of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum

25/05/2016
Urgent Appeal

UGA 001 / 0515 / OBS 043
Burglary / Killing /
Obstacles to freedom of association
Uganda
May 25, 2016

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the burglary of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) as well as the killing of a security guard. HRAPF is a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to promote respect and observance of human rights of marginalised groups through advocacy, research, documentation, legal support and litigation.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Uganda.

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, on May 22, 2016, four unknown assailants scaled the fence of the HRAPF premises, and suffocated the security guard to death.

After breaking into the premises, the assailants ransacked the offices of HRAPF Executive Director, Mr. Adrian Jjuuko, and of the Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Edward Mwebaza, and took a number of documents and files, including copies of the memorandum of association, while leaving other valuable items such as laptops and other electronic material on the spot. The Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson subsequently announced that police investigators had been sent to the crime scene, but no perpetrators have yet been identified.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the burglary into HRAPF’s office and the murder of its security guard, which is the latest illustration of a series of targeted attacks against human rights defenders and organisations in Uganda.

On April 10, 2016, unknown assailants had similarly tried to burgle the offices of the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-U), after sedating their guard. On June 29, 2015, computers, valuable documents, cash and other property of HRNJ-Uganda had already been stolen by unknown individuals. Although an investigation was opened into these events, those responsible have never been identified.

At least 26 NGO offices were reportedly burgled between 2013 and 2014, including those of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) and DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project). Again, the authorities have failed to identify the perpetrators of these attacks.

The Observatory calls for an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the killing of the security guard and the burglary of the HRAPF premises, as well as into all the other above-mentioned break-ins, thefts, and acts of violence against NGOs and defenders, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Uganda, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of HRAPF and HRNJ-U representatives and related personnel, as well as all human rights defenders in Uganda;

ii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the killing of the security guard assigned to the HRAPF premises and the related burglary, as well as into the burglary attempt of HRNJ-U offices and all the other above-mentioned break-ins, thefts and acts of violence, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders and organisations in Uganda are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 5, which underscores the right of every individual to form, join, and participate in non-governmental organizations; and
- Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Uganda.

Addresses:

• President Kaguta Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, Fax: +256 (0) 414 436 102 / + 256 41 4235459 / +256 41 4344012. E-mail: museveni@starcom.co.ug / aak@statehouse.go.ug
• Mr. Frederick Ruhindi, Attorney General, and Hon. Kahinda Otafiire, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Uganda, Fax: + 256 41 4250829. E-Mail: mojca@africaonline.co.ug
• Mr. Mike Chibita, Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Uganda, Fax: +256-414-258-565/341-316, Email: admin@dpp.go.ug
• Ms. Hilary Onek, Minister of Internal Affairs of Uganda, Fax: + 256 414343088
• Gen. Kale Kayihura, Inspector General of Police, Telephone: +256 (0) 712 755 999
• H.E. Mr. Christopher Onyanga Aparr, Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 340 70 30. Email: mission.uganda@ties.itu.int
• Embassy of Uganda to the EU in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: + 32 2.763.04.38. Email: ugembrus@brutele.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Uganda in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Uganda.

***
Paris-Geneva, May 25, 2016

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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