Launch Independent Inquiry Into Killings

News and Press Release
Originally published


No Lethal Force was Needed in at Least 9 Fatal Shootings

(Kampala) - The Ugandan government should conduct a prompt, independent, and thorough investigation into the use of lethal force by security forces to counter recent demonstrations and rioting throughout the country, Human Rights Watch said today. The violence took place over several days in April when demonstrators protested against wasteful government spending and rising commodity prices.

Human Rights Watch carried out investigations into fatal and non-fatal shootings by the security forces, as well as abuses such as beatings, theft, and rape that occurred on three of the most violent days of the demonstrations, April 14, 21, and 29, 2011. Based on multiple eyewitness accounts, Human Rights Watch documented at least nine unarmed people killed by government forces - six in Kampala, two in Gulu, and one in Masaka - none of whom were actively involved in rioting.

"Uganda's security forces met the recent protests with live fire that killed peaceful demonstrators and even bystanders," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "A prompt, effective, and independent investigation into the violence is essential. For far too long Uganda's government has allowed a climate of impunity for serious abuses by the police and military."

Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 60 people, including victims and their relatives, eyewitnesses, community members, medical staff, members of civil society, police, military, and journalists in Gulu and Kampala. Human Rights Watch also gathered forensic evidence, such as photographs of bullet holes, and medical and police records.

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