The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has warned against using the Covid-19 pandemic to violate different human rights during the ongoing election campaigns.
Kadaga made the statement during the Thursday afternoon plenary session in which legislators took to the floor to condemn arrests of different political players and subsequent violence and killings in protests across the country.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has warned
against using the COVID-19 pandemic to violate different human rights during
the ongoing election campaigns.
Kadaga made the statement during the Thursday
afternoon plenary session in which legislators took to the floor to condemn
arrests of different political players and subsequent violence and killings in
protests across the country.
“I just want to reiterate that the COVID-19 situation
should not be used to violate the human rights of the people of Uganda and it
is being used in some instances to do so, this is not right,” said Kadaga.
The Speaker said that the people who are incarcerated
should be given access to their food, lawyers and family because this is a
basic right and not for negotiation.
Her remarks followed a matter of National Importance
raised by Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa in regard to violations of
human rights of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi currently vying for the
office of the president.
He said that since Kyagulanyi’s arrest on Wednesday in
Luuka district and subsequent detention at Nalufenya police station in Jinja
City, the police officers have denied lawyers, family members and doctors
access to him. Kyagulanyi was arrested for flouting COVID-19 guidelines which
require only 200 people at a campaign venue.
Basalirwa demanded that the Minister of Internal Affairs
Gen. Jeje Odong is required to explain directives that police are using to deny
suspects basic rights.
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The lawyer added that besides Kyagulanyi, security
forces also arrested Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga and others in Masaka
and that their rights are equally violated since they have been denied access
to their lawyers and doctors.
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Basalirwa also told parliament that there is a very
big dilemma the country was facing in regard to the COVID-19 directives. “It seems, COVID-19 is only transmitted through political
meetings. With due respect right honorable Speaker, we did attend a burial of
the late Mayor of Kampala…we were there in thousands including two deputy Prime
Ministers. There was no problem and that function was being manned by security…when
it comes to political meetings we are told we should be 200. How do we explain
that to the ordinary wanainchi?” he asked.
He reiterated his earlier statement in parliament that
there should either be normal election or no election. According to Basalirwa,
the current limitations are not practical since there are double standards
since supporters of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party hold
processions under the watch of police.
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Earlier on, Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebaggala
condemned the arrest of MP Kyagulanyi and the subsequent killings of civilians
by security forces during demonstrations. He challenged the reported number of
deaths by police alleging that the number of death are more than those
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Gideon Onyango, the Samia Bugwe North MP said that the
situation was becoming absurd and what was worrying him most is the extent of
the demonstrations. He explained that it was becoming hard to
differentiate between the demonstrators and security operatives since majority
are wearing plain clothes. Onyango advised that the government immediately
takes charge of the situation wondering why security operatives chose to shot
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Mukono South MP Johnson Ssenyonga accused Police for
failing to exercise judgement in arresting presidential candidate Kyagulanyi in
the given circumstances. He told Parliament that the arrest was not called for
as well as the manner in which crowds were dispersed.
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Speaker Kadaga said that it was unfortunate that the
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda was not in the House to respond to the issues.
She however expressed concern about the developments saying that there seems to
be no coordination.