Uganda: Police Authorities should investigate extra-judicial killing of human rights defenders.

Twerwaneho Listeners Club unequivocally condemns the extra-judicial killings of human rights defender (HRD) Mr.Irumba Erasmus, coordinator of the Twerwaneho Listeners’ Club (TLC) activities in Ntoroko District, and his friend Vide Kanyoro, under the hands of officers of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) and Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), and call on Ugandan authorities to immediately conduct thorough, impartial, and transparent investigations into the matter.

On the evening of 23 June, Irumba received a telephone call at his home from security officials requesting a meeting. Irumba and Kanyoro, who was with him at the time of the call, arrived at Butungama Trading Center and met with the security officials around 8pm. Shortly thereafter, Irumba was overheard by local residents shouting and demanding his money back from the officials. The altercation escalated and Irumba and one of the officials were shot in the leg, while Kanyoro was beaten to the ground and then also shot in the leg, according to first-hand witnesses.

During a press conference on 26 June, Police spokesperson Asan Kasingye identified the security officials involved as being Ntoroko District Police Commander (DPC) Gerald Atuhaire, and District Internal Security Officer (DISO) Brian Babishanga. An article published in the New Vision on 27 June covering the press conference also stated that DISO Babishanga was accidentally shot by his own men during the altercation.

However, several residents of Butungama have disputed this statement and claim that the security official shot was in fact the commanding officer of the Uganda People’s Defense Force’s (UPDF) 3rd Mountain Battalion based in Karugutu, Lt Col. Richard Muhangi. In a press release dated 26 June, the UPDF confirms that Lt. Col. Muhangi has indeed been arrested in relation to the shooting. A UPF spokesperson later confirmed that it was Lt. Col. Muhangi, not DISO Babishanga who was injured in the altercation.

Severely bleeding, Irumba and Kanyoro were then put in the boot of two private Toyota Premios, with the officials telling local residents the two men had been arrested and would be transferred to a hospital for treatment. Along the way to Ntoroko District, around Mubugando close, the pair were taken out of the cars. Residents at Mubuganda heard cries and pleas begging to be spared until the two were shot. It is alleged that Irumba was killed by a single gunshot to the head. Their bodies were handed over to the Buhinga Regional Referral Hospital at Fort Portal, and Lt. Col. Muhangi was admitted for a gunshot wound in the leg.

Security forces allege the pair had contacted security officers attempting to buy 25 million Uganda Shillings (6,970 USD) worth of military ammunition. Although officials involved claim that Irumba and Kanyoro were carrying guns, police have only recovered weapons belonging to the security officials.

In the same press conference on 26 June Mr. Kasingye told journalists that DPC Atuhaire and DISO Bubishanga have been arrested and are facing two charges of murder as the investigation continues, but also reiterated the allegation against Irumba. The UPF has confirmed that charges have also been preferred against Lt. Col. Muhangi.

While the circumstances leading up to the shooting remain unclear, there can be no doubt that Irumba Erasmus and Vide Kanyoro were victims of an extra-judicial killing, officers responsible must be held accountable, regardless of their rank or branch of service. Police should conduct a thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation into the murders.
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in particular Article 4 (Right to life) and Article 5 (Right to Dignity, Prohibition of Torture Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment and Treatment), prohibits extra-judicial killings by security forces.

Irumba had recently been investigating two high-profile corruption cases, although it is unclear if his killing was related to his work. One involved corruption at Rwebisengo health Centre IV that led to the sacking of several administrators, and a second involved a local political leader who is now under investigation for illegally levied taxes. TLC believes that Irumba was killed to prevent him from revealing incriminating information against the officials involved, either obtained during the altercation or beforehand.
Four other TLC members are currently facing spurious charges related to the possession of explosive devices and poison brought against them in connection with a disputed lease of 20 craTwerwaneho Listeners Club unequivocally condemns the extra-judicial killings of human rights defender (HRD) Mr.Irumba Erasmus, coordinator of the Twerwaneho Listeners’ Club (TLC) activities in Ntoroko District, and his friend Vide Kanyoro, under the hands of officers of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) and Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), and call on Ugandan authorities to immediately conduct thorough, impartial, and transparent investigations into the matter.

On the evening of 23 June, Irumba received a telephone call at his home from security officials requesting a meeting. Irumba and Kanyoro, who was with him at the time of the call, arrived at Butungama Trading Center and met with the security officials around 8pm. Shortly thereafter, Irumba was overheard by local residents shouting and demanding his money back from the officials. The altercation escalated and Irumba and one of the officials were shot in the leg, while Kanyoro was beaten to the ground and then also shot in the leg, according to first-hand witnesses.

During a press conference on 26 June, Police spokesperson Asan Kasingye identified the security officials involved as being Ntoroko District Police Commander (DPC) Gerald Atuhaire, and District Internal Security Officer (DISO) Brian Babishanga. An article published in the New Vision on 27 June covering the press conference also stated that DISO Babishanga was accidentally shot by his own men during the altercation.

However, several residents of Butungama have disputed this statement and claim that the security official shot was in fact the commanding officer of the Uganda People’s Defense Force’s (UPDF) 3rd Mountain Battalion based in Karugutu, Lt Col. Richard Muhangi. In a press release dated 26 June, the UPDF confirms that Lt. Col. Muhangi has indeed been arrested in relation to the shooting. A UPF spokesperson later confirmed that it was Lt. Col. Muhangi, not DISO Babishanga who was injured in the altercation.

Severely bleeding, Irumba and Kanyoro were then put in the boot of two private Toyota Premios, with the officials telling local residents the two men had been arrested and would be transferred to a hospital for treatment. Along the way to Ntoroko District, around Mubugando close, the pair were taken out of the cars. Residents at Mubuganda heard cries and pleas begging to be spared until the two were shot. It is alleged that Irumba was killed by a single gunshot to the head. Their bodies were handed over to the Buhinga Regional Referral Hospital at Fort Portal, and Lt. Col. Muhangi was admitted for a gunshot wound in the leg.

Security forces allege the pair had contacted security officers attempting to buy 25 million Uganda Shillings (6,970 USD) worth of military ammunition. Although officials involved claim that Irumba and Kanyoro were carrying guns, police have only recovered weapons belonging to the security officials.

In the same press conference on 26 June Mr. Kasingye told journalists that DPC Atuhaire and DISO Bubishanga have been arrested and are facing two charges of murder as the investigation continues, but also reiterated the allegation against Irumba. The UPF has confirmed that charges have also been preferred against Lt. Col. Muhangi.

While the circumstances leading up to the shooting remain unclear, there can be no doubt that Irumba Erasmus and Vide Kanyoro were victims of an extra-judicial killing, officers responsible must be held accountable, regardless of their rank or branch of service. Police should conduct a thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation into the murders.
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in particular Article 4 (Right to life) and Article 5 (Right to Dignity, Prohibition of Torture Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment and Treatment), prohibits extra-judicial killings by security forces.

Irumba had recently been investigating two high-profile corruption cases, although it is unclear if his killing was related to his work. One involved corruption at Rwebisengo health Centre IV that led to the sacking of several administrators, and a second involved a local political leader who is now under investigation for illegally levied taxes. TLC believes that Irumba was killed to prevent him from revealing incriminating information against the officials involved, either obtained during the altercation or beforehand.
Four other TLC members are currently facing spurious charges related to the possession of explosive devices and poison brought against them in connection with a disputed lease of 20 crater lakes to Ferdsult Engineering Service Limited by Kabarole District Local Government.

“The killing of Irumba and Kanyoro is terrifying and casts more light on the challenging environment grassroots activists operate in. said Mr.Gerald Kankya, Coordinator – TLC, An independent inquiry in to the killings and holding accountable those responsible will send a strong statement to other perpetrators of HRDs rights on Government’s resolve to promoting and protecting HRDs rights”
ter lakes to Ferdsult Engineering Service Limited by Kabarole District Local Government.

“The killing of Irumba and Kanyoro is terrifying and casts more light on the challenging environment grassroots activists operate in. said Mr.Gerald Kankya, Coordinator – TLC, An independent inquiry in to the killings and holding accountable those responsible will send a strong statement to other perpetrators of HRDs rights on Government’s resolve to promoting and protecting HRDs rights”

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