GENEVA — The U.N. high commissioner for human rights is expressing deep concern about growing unrest and violence in Uganda. The turmoil was sparked by the recent arrest of pop star turned politician Bobi Wine and 32 opposition politicians.
The arrests on August 13 followed a campaign rally in Uganda’s northwestern town of Arua. Charges brought against Bobi Wine and others detained with him range from treason, the illegal possession of fire arms, damage to property, and incitement to violence among others.
High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein says his office has received reports that Bobi Wine’s driver was shot dead while sitting in his employer’s car. He says he is particularly concerned by reports that law enforcement agents have tortured Wine and some others while in detention.
He says his office also has received accounts of killings, ill treatment and arrests of persons by law enforcement agents during protests against the above-mentioned arrests.
“I urge the Government of Uganda to conduct a thorough independent and impartial investigation into the serious human rights allegations of extra-judicial killings, excessive use of force, torture and other forms of ill-treatment and to bring to justice those responsible,” he said.
The government has not responded to the high commissioner’s remarks but has denied all allegations of torture, calling them “rubbish.”
Given what has transpired, Zeid says it is absolutely essential the government does the right thing and that there is no further excessive use of force.
“Those who now have been detained should be released forthwith because these charges at the moment from what we can see and given the fact that there are credible accounts of torture having been used would not stack up in any… judicial proceeding that meets international standards, of course,” he said.
Bobi Wine and the 32 other politicians were granted bail on August 27. They are expected back in court on Thursday.