Catholic Bishops Kizza Besigye protest
Catholic Bishops condemns police brutality against Besigye + Mak students. File Photo

Police brutality on Besigye: Catholic Bishops say it’s a violation of human rights and abuse of power by state officials

Catholic Bishops fraternity in Uganda has condemned the violent and brutal response of Police Officers to Makerere University student’s recent protests and protests by politician Kizza Besigye.

In their remarks, the Bishops said that the brutality and force exerted by security officers in arresting students, and politicians who had formed a protest was a violation of human rights and uncalled for, in addition to brutalising journalists who were covering the events.

Joseph Anthony Zziwa, the Bishop of Kiyinda Mityana Diocese and the Chairperson of Uganda Episcopal Conference signed a statement indicating abuse of power by State Officials, following the brutal arrest of students’, journalists and some opposition politicians.

The statement dated 8, November 2019, also urged State Security Officials to respect the Constitution of Uganda, particularly articles 24 and 44(a) of the Constitution of Uganda.

According to these articles, human rights and dignity must be respected. The same articles prohibit torture and inhuman treatment of human beings in Uganda.

“The same Constitutional Provisions guarantee the right to protection from inhuman and degrading treatment by prohibiting any forms of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the statement stated.

Certainly, the Bishop said that the section of people in disagreement as far as the matter is concerned should seek out dialogue other than violence. However, they acknowledged legislators for condemning the inhuman acts portrayed by security officers in handling civilians fighting for their rights.

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In addition, the Bishops called upon the government to promote dialogue, such that Uganda becomes a conducive place to live in by every citizen, in total peace and freedom.

“It will not help to make our country a family where everybody cannot live in peace and harmony. We, therefore, call upon the government to promote dialogue and to always listen to the grievances of its citizens,” the Bishops stated.

Also, they urged institutions, communities and individuals to always seek out peaceful ways of settling issues rather than opting for violence all the time. And respect for the rule of law in the country.

The remarks resulted from the Assembly of the Uganda Episcopal Conference held between 4-8th of November 2019 and released to the public through a press meeting held on Sunday 10, November by the Social Communication Executive Secretary, father Philip Odii.

Last month Makerere University students engaged in a serious protest that caused standoff to the university’s business. 

The protest that began on Tuesday 22, October 2019, and lasted for close to two weeks, follows a 15 per cent cumulative tuition fee increment policy, over the next five years, approved by the university council, the overall governing body of the institution.

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The protests at Makerere University began as a peaceful female demonstration, but late on, police and army took over.

The Army was seen forcefully entering halls of residences hitting a numbery of students, with many being hospitalised after they were allegedly brutalised by the military.

“There were chances of serious destruction of property. Female protestors were being fronted as shields and eventually, male protestors would join,” Enanga noted.

Three journalists covering the protests were arrested on Tuesday 29, October, after police fired teargas at them, and taken to an unknown destination. These include; a BBC correspondent, Chris Ssemakula of BBS Telefiyina and Laurence Kitata of Bukedde Olupapula and others were injured and hospitalised.

However, after some time, the university bowed down to pressure from students and revised the 15 per cent cumulative tuition policy, following president Museveni’s orders asking the two parties to sit and resolve the matter.

As a result of the protest, many students sustained injuries and others suspended from the institution waiting for the final judgement from the University’s Disciplinary Committee on the case charged against them.