The European Union (EU) Parliament has issued a stern warning to Uganda, accusing the country of continued violation of human rights during and after the Arua Municipality parliamentary by-election.
In a 14-point resolution dated September 13, the Parliament asked the Executive to respect the independence of Parliament and drop what they called trumped up charges against Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, and all other suspects implicated in the Arua fracas.
“The EU Parliament expresses its deep concern at the arrest of Opposition parliamentarians in connection with the Arua by-election; stresses that it is vital for Ugandan democracy that the President and government of Uganda respect the independence of the country’s Parliament as an institution and the independence of the mandate of its members and ensure that all Members of Parliament can freely pursue their elected mandates and calls on the Ugandan authorities to drop what appear to be trumped-up charges against Bobi Wine and to stop the crackdown against Opposition politicians and supporters,” reads part of the resolution.
The EU MPs urged the Ugandan authorities to immediately launch an impartial and independent investigation into the killing of Yasin Kawuma and the reports of deaths and excessive use of force during the protests. They also expect a swift and independent investigation into the allegations of torture and mistreatment of those arrested in Arua; and stress the need to bring those responsible to justice.
On the recent crackdown on the media and continuous harassment, the EU MPs also called upon the Ugandan authorities to create a safe and conducive environment for journalist to do their work.
“We note with concern that journalists covering the demonstrations and the riots that broke out have been beaten along with participants, and that two journalists were arrested and call on the Ugandan authorities to create an environment where journalists can carry out, without hindrance, their work of informing about political developments in the country,” they added.
The resolution also reminds the Ugandan authorities of their obligation to guarantee, protect and promote fundamental rights, including the civil and political rights of the country’s citizens, among them freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
The EU Parliament called on the Ugandan security forces to show restraint when policing protests, to desist from using live bullets, to act lawfully and with full respect for human rights law, and to allow journalists to freely carry out their work.
They lauded the Uganda Human Rights Commission for closely monitoring the situation in the country to ensure that rights are not violated.
“We commend the work accomplished by the Ugandan Human Rights Commission following the arrests, killings and torture arising from the Arua by-election, including reporting, visits to detention centres, investigating the whereabouts of missing persons, and interventions to guarantee the rights of prisoners, medical treatment and family visits,” the resolution stated.
The EU remains a strong development partner of Uganda and is ranked the second highest destination for Ugandan products, although the share in total export earnings has been reducing to 18.92%, $ 506.94m in 2016/17, according to the trade ministry.
It remains unclear if EU would slash aid in the wake of recent political developments in the country.