Police has called for calm and patience from furious staff of human rights awareness and promotion forum-Uganda (HRAPF), who'd staged a protest at Old Kampala police station following a second break-in into their offices last week.
Nearly two years after the first break-in on May 22, 2016 – leading to the brutal murder of the security guard on duty Emmanuel Arituha; last week on February 9, HRAPF offices located along Prof, Apolo Nsibambi road, Namirembe in Kampala were again broken into by unknown assailants.
Armed with placards, HRAPF staff camped at Old Kampala police station to demand for the immediate conclusion of the investigations into the now rampant breaking into NGO offices.
Following a meeting with senior police officials at the station, police acknowledged the need for quicker investigations and promised to provide armed guards to the NGO until the investigations are concluded. For the first break-in investigations, police officials reportedly said the file had been called to the CIID headquarters but will be recalled to the station to conclude investigations.
A matrix organised by the by National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRDU), shows that at least 24 premises of Non-governmental organisations and civil societies have been broken into since 2012.
HRAPF staff had threatened to camp at Kampala police station for the near future, arguing that since their offices had become insecure, the only possible secure place to work from was at police stations.
Adrian Jjuuko HRAPF executive director said last week’s raid was carried out at about 3.00am by group of about nine unidentified individuals broke into their offices.
Jjuuko explained that according to an eyewitness, the thugs jumped over the high perimeter wall surrounding the office, disabled the electricity supply thus affecting the operations of CCTV cameras.
They then attacked the guards on duty including the dog with iron bars and batons. One part of the group carried on the scuffle with the guards and the dog while the other plied open the main door to the main building and the back door, triggering the emergency alarm in the process.
Jjuuko said the guards belonging to G4S were able to escape by climbing onto the water tank and jumping into the next compound, sustaining severe injuries including a skull fracture to one of them.
The two guards, Sseezi Bwambale and Godfrey Okwi are currently battling for their lives at St. Francis Nsambya hospital after injuries sustained during the attack. Jjuuko, said that from the records made, they found nothing was taken from the HRAPF offices.
“This is the second such attack that HRAPF has suffered within a period of less than two years, and all being executed in almost the same fashion,” Jjuuko said.
He explained that despite the police taking fingerprints and blood samples, and HRAPF providing CCTV footage clearly showing the faces of the attackers, the police after constant reminders from HRAPF only provided a short report classifying the attack as a random attack, without providing how they came to that conclusion or identifying anyone who was involved and what had been done to them.
Organisations such as the Uganda Land Alliance, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, the Legal Aid Service Providers Network, Akina Mama Wa Afrika and the Anti-Corruption Coalition have suffered break-ins in similar fashion and, despite timely reports to the police on all occasions, investigations have been unsatisfactory and the follow up insufficient.
This is the latest in a series of attacks against civil society organisations which, regardless of the motivations of the assailants, points to the increasing lack of protection provided to human rights defenders in Uganda, said Jjuuko.
Police promises to conclude investigations into the two break-ins into @hrapf_uganda offices. Following a 2nd break-in last week, nearly two years after the first one in 2016, the NGO staff today camped at Old Kampala police station to demand for conclusion of the investigations pic.twitter.com/TgnLSNhldB— The Observer (@observerug) February 12, 2018