The Minister for Security, Gen Elly Tumwine has told media that investigations are ongoing both on the part of the police and the military, into the recent rights violations of journalists and civilians who covered the free Bobi Wine riots on August 19 and the violent incidents during the Arua by-election.
“Regrettably in the process, some security personnel were involved in those scuffles during the operations to quell riots. The Chief of Defences Forces has instituted a board of inquiry to investigate. The IGP also opened a general inquiry to probe into rights violations. These will form our subsequent actions,” said Gen Tumwine who was speaking to journalists at the Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday.
“This is the normal procedure. In UPDF, when we carry out an operation we analyse, and if there are question marks we get a board of inquiry which is followed by the trial.”
He faulted the media for accusing, trying and sentencing the officers before investigations into the matter are complete.
But he said that the security forces will remain firm and resolute in maintaining law and order and that no one is above the law. “Lawlessness will not be tolerated at all.”
A number of civilians and MPs including Bobi Wine were arrested and charged with treason for allegedly leading a violent procession in Arua, during which the President’s convoy was pelted with stones.
Free Bobi Wine Riots would later break out in Kampala on August 19. When security agencies intervened to quell the riots, journalists and civilians were beaten up by soldiers and police men.
The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi later assured the country that errant officers would be reprimanded.
Now, the Minister of Security, Gen Tumwine has said that some of the “problems” the journalists suffered during violent situations should be taken as occupational hazards.
“When it rains, it doesn’t sort out who it will soak. The moment you go in the rain, you are all liable to some soaking,” he said.
“Having pain or injury is not necessarily torture. I have an injury on my eye and it was from a violent situation. I was not tortured but hurt. Sometimes, these are occupational hazards.”
He added that “in the military, rules of the war change after the first bullet” and that the actions taken are sometimes determined by the situation at hand.