Uganda rights activist raise red flag as mob kills rise

Thursday April 25 2019

crime scene

Uganda police forced to craft new measures to curb mob justice. PHOTO | FILE 

DAILY MONITOR
By DAILY MONITOR
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Uganda human rights activists have condemned the rising spate of mob justice in northern Lango sub-region where dozens of suspected thieves have been killed and their remains burnt.

Eleven people have been lynched since March with most killings having occurred during the Easter week, the Uganda Human Rights Commission says.

The first incident of mob justice in the area occured in June last year when locals raided Lira hospital mortuary and took away the body of a man identified as Solomon Odongo and burnt it to ashes using petrol.

Odongo, a suspected notorious robber, had escaped from police custody.

On April 17 this year, locals ganged up against a businessman identified as Okello Onguu in Bala sub-county, Kole District and tortured him to death. They latter set his body ablaze. He had been accused of stealing a cow.

Cases

A day later, another person identified as Jimmy Owiny was beaten to death and his body doused with petrol and set alight.

A resident of Barogole, Ojwina Division in Lira Municipality, where Owiny was killed accused him of trying to rob a motorcycle.

On Easter Sunday, residents of Alyato Village, Alito sub-county in Kole District, killed two youth after they were found in possession of suspected stolen goats. The victims were Jaspher Opio and Isaac Agwa.

These are some of the cases that the Uganda Human Rights Commission has compiled.

Mr Nicholas Ogwang, the acting regional human rights officer for northern Uganda said that mob action is a criminal offence, and that perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted for murder.

“The community have turned themselves into the complainants, investigators, prosecutors, judges and the executors of the sentences but the law is very clear. Even if a suspect is caught red-handed committing a crime, such a person is still regarded as innocent until convicted in court or pleaded guilty,” he told the Daily Monitor on Wednesday.

Mr David Ongom Mudong, the North Kyoga regional police spokesperson, however, said the police have registered 11 cases of killings resulting from mob justice in the sub-region since January 2019.

He said seven people suspected to have participated in the killings have been arrested.

Mr Ongom said the police are developing a new strategy to deal with the crime.

“We are trying to design tough measures to curb this crime and we are going to take serious actions without compromising any situation because this issue of mob justice is too much,” Mr Ongom said on Wednesday.

Social problem

Last month, police expressed worry over rampant murders by mob action where 42 people were lynched in seven weeks.

A countrywide report by Criminal Investigations Directorate compiled from January 1 to February 20, shows a total of 41 cases of mob action were reported to police, with 42 victims lynched and four people survived with grave injuries.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said 10 suspects were arrested.

Bishop Alfred Acur of West Lango Diocese said the current generation of young people has become a social problem because of failure by parents to train their children when they are still young.

“Most parents these days value their work more than their children and that is why we have children as young as those in kindergarten being taken to boarding while some are left under the care of housemaids,” the bishop said.

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