Parliament has directed the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Fisheries Protection Unit to halt all its operations on all Uganda’s water bodies due to the continued alleged mistreatment of Ugandans.
This decision was reached after a heated debate where the Minister of State for Defence, Charles Engola failed to convince legislators through the statement he tabled on the alleged misconduct of the UPDF officers on the lakes.
The UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit headed by Moses Nuwagaba is accused of gross violations of human rights against people in the fishing communities, in the name of protecting the lake.
A number of people have been allegedly killed by the UPDF during a number of operations, villages burnt down, women raped and several injured, but not much has been done by the authorities to reverse this.
In his statement, Minister Egola noted that there have been several other allegations before; of torture and illegal detention by the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit.
All these allegations were investigated case by case and responses were made to that effect before the August House.
“Hon Speaker, it should however be noted that as Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs and UPDF, we don’t condone acts of indiscipline,” Engola said.
The Minister’s submission didn’t please legislators who continued to demand that the Minister produces a list of those officers who have been disciplined after complaints.
Egola requested that Parliament grants him more time so he can return with a comprehensive report on the matter.
After several members debated the matter, Kasese Municipality MP, Robert Centenary moved a motion for Parliament to pass a resolution halting the operations of the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit.
“Can we pronounce ourselves as Parliament that the activities of UPDF be halted until we get a clear mode of operation of UPDF on the Lakes,” Centenary said.
In response, the Minister said: “Allow me to go and view all the activities of UPDF and I will also consult the commander in Chief to advise as I reveal to him what has transpired in the August House”.
“The decision to halt the operations of the UPDF Fisheries is not done by just one person who is a Minister, operations need to be discussed by the Commander in Chief.”
Kadaga later ruled suspending the operations of the UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit.
“Given the account of this House from the second session, third session and this forth session, relating to the conduct of the UPDF to the citizens of Uganda, this House directs that the operations of the fisheries protection unit be halted with immediate effect,” Kadaga ruled.