Government tasked on spate of Kidnaps

The Legal Aid Service Provider’s Network (LASPNET) has urged government to address the spate of kidnaps and killings of women and girls which have thrown many Ugandans in fear.

The Inspector General of Police John Martin Okoth Ochola reported on May 23 that the police had recorded over 42 cases of kidnaps in the past since February when Susan Magara was kidnapped and eventually killed.

Most of victims of the kidnaps are girls, children and women who according to Ochola are kidnapped for ritual purposes, crimes for passion and fake kidnaps by individuals who want to extort money from relatives.

In a statement released on Friday, Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa, the executive director of Legal Services Providers Network (LASPNET) said the kidnaps need to be treated as crimes against humanity.

“This trend of kidnaps and murders is worrying as it may relate to crimes against humanity where women are used as weapons of destruction and/or expression of discontent by a bandit of criminals,” Namubiru said.

” It is a violation of the right to life as enshrined in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 6 of the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights; Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and Article 22 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda,” Namubiru further stated.

About two weeks ago, Ochola and the state minister for Internal Affairs Mario Obiga Kania failed to explain to Parliament’s committee on Human Rights why security agencies have still failed to abate the many cases of kidnap and killings in the country.

In her statement, challenged government to rise up the occasion and take national security seriously.

“The epidemic Kidnaps have broadly exposed lapses in our security system as well as demonstrated delay by the government to take conclusive steps to eradicated this grave threat to life against this vulnerable group of people,” Namubiru said.

She commended the police force for the active role it has played in the investigation of the atrocious crimes but hastened to add that there is much more the police have to do to tackle the root of the problem that causes organized crime in Uganda.

Below is the NGO’s statement in full.

The Legal Aid Service Provider’s Network (LASPNET), an organization of 52 legal aid service providers in Uganda through its Gender Justice Cluster is extremely concerned and worried at the state of insecurity and vulnerability of women and girls in Uganda. We join others to condemn in the strongest terms these kidnaps and murders. We commiserate with the families of the departed and those who are still in captivity.

Since 2017, the security situation in the country has been dire with increasing reported cases of kidnap and murders of women and children where 23 women were reported killed in areas of Nansana, Wakiso and Entebbe. Police further notes that the killers in most cases raped the women before killing them. This trend continues with no hope of the problem being adequately addressed. This has continued to threaten our right to life and security as a country but also to emotionally impact on the families of the victims. In a press conference held on 23rd may 2018, the Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola, shared that in the last four months, 42 cases of kidnaps were reported and investigated, 7 involved murder with 8 victims, 10 cases were of self-kidnap, 8 cases, all victims rescued alive, whereas 7 victims are still missing.

This trend of kidnaps and murders is worrying as it may relate to crimes against humanity where women are used as weapons of destruction and/or expression of discontent by a bandit of criminals. It is a violation of the right to life as enshrined in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Article 6 of the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights; Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and Article 22 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. This is why government and especially the security organs have to take this trend of kidnaps and murders as an issue of national security.

We note that the epidemic kidnaps have broadly exposed lapses in our security system as well as demonstrated delay by the government to take conclusive steps to eradicate this grave threat to life against this vulnerable group of people.

We take cognizance and commend the role played so far by the Uganda Police Force to investigate these heinous crimes as communicated by the IGP in his statement of 23rd May 2018, such as; putting in place toll free helplines, arresting some of the suspects, which are steps in the right direction. However, there is much more to be done especially to tackle the root of the problem that causes organized crime in Uganda

We therefore call upon the relevant institutions to take the following actions to protect the right to life of Ugandans.

  1. Cabinet: To plan and prioritize allocation of resources to the Police budget to allow for more capacity building of Police officers to fight crime and improve on their remuneration
  2. Parliament: To convene a special sitting in honor of the departed, deliberate on this matter, devise strategies and hold government institutions accountable
  3. Uganda Police Force: To increase on the level of police deployment; vigilance; skilling for crime intelligence, to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and the crimes eradicated.
  4. Uganda Communications Commission and Telecom Companies: To undertake an internal audit to establish the source of unaccounted sim cards and call logs that the criminals are using to accomplish their mission; to be accountable and strengthen their information systems monitoring
  5. The public: To be vigilant; report incidences of detected kidnaps and suspicious characters in their community to the Police by calling the Police Toll-free lines 0800199990, 0800199991 and 0800199992 and work closely with them before submitting the ransom as it is now an inducement to criminals.

 

LASPNET reaffirms its commitment and resolves to stand and support the security agencies to ensure public safety and order.