Human Rights Watch Warns Gov’t On Mugumya

The international human rights watch has written to the Ugandan government demanding that it ends its conspicuous silence on the whereabouts of FDC activist Sam Mugumya.

Sam Mugumya
Sam Mugumya

Mugumya, an opposition activist, has been missing for close to a month now.

During his disappearance, the military spokesperson Paddy Ankunda has consistently pointed out that he is under arrest in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo over treasonous activities, a statement the Congolese officials initially denied.

In a wondering letter to government officials, the lead Human Rights Watch researcher for Sub-Saharan Africa, Maria Burnett questioned the silence of key government officials on the matter saying their silence may constitute an “enforced disappearance” which is a violation of international law

“This time, the official silence is very troubling. No matter what Sam may or may not be accused of, his family is entitled to answers. They shouldn’t be baited by Opondo’s tweets, then denied information. Refusal by officials – whoever is responsible for his detention – to provide information as to Sam’s whereabouts would constitute an enforced disappearance, a serious crime under international law”. Reads the letter in part

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Burnett now raises concern that Mugumya might be used as a pawn to haunt opposition leaders that intend to run in the 2016 elections.

She writes in her letter that the Ugandan government has had a history of haunting opposition candidates with treason charges which may happen again.

“Uganda’s current government has a history of using harassment, including criminal charges, to obstruct opposition politics. Dr. Besigye, a former presidential candidate, faced a litany of charges in the run-up to the 2006 elections, hampering his ability to campaign.” she writes.

Efforts to get the whereabouts of Sam Mugumya have been consistently denied by security organs in Uganda.

On Thursday, Police blocked an attempt by opposition leaders to present a petition to the congolese embassy questioning the arrest of Sam Mugumya.

Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher
Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher

On Friday, Police again blocked an attempt by opposition leaders to request for the extradition of Sam Mugumya from DR Congo by the Foreign Affairs ministry.

“As Ugandan politicians gear up for the next elections in early 2016, the government needs to ensure that all candidates can campaign without interference.   Mugumya’s disappearance may be a sign that more obstruction is in the offing. His detention for more than three weeks appears to have been conducted wholly outside the confines of the law. If Uganda’s officials aren’t complicit in his disappearance,  they need to immediately help Sam’s family locate him and be more vocal in their concern for his rights and well-being.“ her letter ends.

Rose Namayanja, the minister for information said that they have not yet confirmed receipt of the letter but will act on it when they see it.

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