Thursday, February 22News That Matters

Failure to report missing persons constraining investigations.

The Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Gen. David Muhoozi, has told Parliament that most of the alleged missing persons have never been reported to the police.
He was presenting a statement on the alleged enforced disappearance of persons during the plenary sitting on Wednesday, 29 November 2023.
Muhoozi was responding to a statement by the Leader of the Opposition (LOP), Mathias Mpuuga, on the shrinking civic space and enforced disappearances.
The minister, who presented the statement signed by his senior minister, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Kahinda Otafiire, said that it is the law and official practice, that for one to be declared a missing person, a missing person’s report must be filed.
“This can only be done with the police, which was not done, and which is still being resisted by the people approached,” Muhoozi said.
He added that some cases where Mpuuga attributed alleged disappearances to security operatives had been reported earlier by the relatives of these people as unwitnessed disappearances.
The cases of Kasumba George and Kisembo Godfrey fall in this category. For the case of Kibalama John Bosco, his vehicle was reportedly found abandoned along the road, and all the belongings that he had at the time, were intact in the vehicle, including a mobile phone, laptop and an iPad,” said Muhoozi.
The minister said that there are inconsistencies in the numbers, and testimonies in the various claims of reported disappeared, presented variously to the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, and the latest statement by the LOP.
He also said that alleged missing persons’ next of kin have declined to give statements to police, making it difficult for government to conclude investigations.
“The next of kin of the reported persons did not cooperate with the police investigators and that police had to hold out as members of a Non-Governmental Organisation in order to interview these people.”
He cited Florence Nabakozza, the next of kin of Dennis Wangolo alias Shafik, whom he said declined to meet the investigators stating that she had got instructions from the National Unity Platform Party not to meet any person.
“In a nutshell, lack of cooperation and the refusal to report, coupled with the other concerns raised in this response, make it extremely difficult to come to the bottom of the matter of alleged disappeared persons,” said Muhoozi.
He further refuted accusations of victimisation of Muslims and claims that there are more Muslims in detention than any other denomination.