Uganda: third break-in in a month at TLC’s office

17/09/2018
Urgent Appeal

UGA 002 / 0918 / OBS 116
Break-in / Assault
Uganda
September 17, 2018

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about three break-ins of the non-governmental organisation Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC) [1]’s office premises in Fort Portal.

According to the information received, during the week-end of September 8 to 9, 2018, unknown people broke into TLC’s premises in Fort Portal through the ventilators and stole some properties including a hand watch, a t-shirt, and a hot plate cooker. No computer, camera, printer or other valuables were taken, which makes the hypothesis of theft less likely and suggests that the real intent of the break-in was intimidation. This was the third break-in of TLC’s premises in a month.

On August 31, 2018, another break-in of the office was registered, and a TV set and a computer cable were stolen. TLC representatives reported the case to the police. After this break-in, TLC changed and enhanced all its door locks to prevent further door breaks.

On August 6, 2018, while at office in the morning, TLC’s staff observed that the main office door had been broken. The locks had been broken and an unidentified person had accessed the office. Two extension cables, one laptop cable and one jacket coat were stolen. Following the accident, the locks had been replaced.

The Observatory recalls that TLC members have been repeatedly harassed over the past two years. On June 23, 2017, Mr. Erasmus Irumba [2], TLC’s coordinator in Ntoroko District, was murdered while investigating the misuse of public funds in health services. On September 12, 2017, Mr. James Rukampena, another member of the organisation, was shot in both legs by private security guards while campaigning for the right of rural local communities in Kabarole District to access their natural resources. Four members of TLC were subjected to spurious charges in the lawsuit opposing them to Ferdsult Engineering Services Limited, the company that obtained exclusive rights over the 20 crater lakes sustaining the livelihoods of these communities. These different security threats and the failure of the police to conclude transparent investigations and bring perpetrators to justice impacted negatively TLC’s capacities to work.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the repetition of break-ins in TLC’s office premises, which seems to be aimed at intimidating its members and prevent their legitimate human rights activities, and urges the authorities of Uganda to ensure that the physical and psychological integrity of TLC representatives is guaranteed and to carry-out an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the above-mentioned facts.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Uganda asking them to:

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

ii. Carry-out an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the above-mentioned break-ins and thefts 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 its Articles 1, 5 and 12.2;

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
• General Jeje Odongo, Minister of Internal Affairs, Fax: +256 414343088
Mr. Obiga Kania, State Minister for Internal Affairs, Fax: + 256 414343088• Mr. William Byaruhanga, 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
• Mr. Med Kaggwa, Chairperson, Uganda Human Rights Commission, Email: uhrc@uhrc.ug Telephone: +256414348007
• Gen. Kale Kayihura, Inspector General of Police, Telephone: +256 (0) 712 755 999
• H.E. 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
• H.E. Mirjam Blaak Sow, Embassy of Uganda to the EU in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: + 32 2.763.04.38. Email: ugembrus@brutele.be , info@ugandamission-benelux.org

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Uganda in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, September 17, 2018

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
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

[1] TLC broadcasts weekly programs on human rights education, performs capacity building to enhance the ability of human rights defenders to perform their activities in the region, provides civic education, monitors and documents human rights violations, and challenges unlawful government actions in court.
[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal n°UGA 001 / 0717 / OBS 077

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