The Beach Management Unit-BMU in Ntoroko District has come under the sport light over its methods of work. The unit is being accused of illegally detaining and torturing suspects involved in illegal fishing.
The Beach Management Unit-BMU in Ntoroko District has come under the sport light over its methods of work. The unit is being accused of illegally detaining and torturing suspects involved in illegal fishing. Hamuza Onyai and Robert Asaba, both fishermen at Rwangara landing site on the shores of Lake Albert are admitted at Virika Hospital in Fort Portal after they were assaulted on Wednesday by BMU officials with the help of two SPCs attached to the unit.
Onyai, a resident of Kamuga village in Kanara Sub County says that the SPCs and two staff from the BMU found him in his house and dragged him out. They told him to hand over the immature fish that he was planning to sell to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to Onyai, his house was searched, but they did not find the immature fish.
Onyai says that one of the SPCs beat him on the head using the barrel of his gun inflicting a big cut on his head. The SPCs and BMU officials then proceeded to Asaba’s home and also searched his house but they did not find any fish. Asaba says that he was taken to the BMU offices at Rwangara landing site, where he was tortured and detained for four hours. He was taken back to his home and dumped at the entrance. Asaba showed URN the torture marks that he sustained as a result of the torture.
Onyai and Asaba say that they will open a case of illegal detention and torture against the BMU officials at Ntoroko Police Station. Emmanuel Ebyagambire, Ntoroko district police commander, says that the two SPCs who carried out the operation have been suspended and will face the police disciplinary committee in Fort Portal. Ebyagambire says that in the past, they have warned BMUs and SPCs against carrying out operations without police permission.
He says that they have received several complaints from fishermen, accusing some members of the BMU and SPCs for harassment. Sharif Musinguzi, Rwngara BMU Chairman says that Roger Baguma and Martin Mwesige, the BMU officers who assaulted the fishermen have been suspended. Musinguzi says that the BMU carried out investigations which revealed that Asaba and Onyai were not engaged in illegal fishing.
The BMUs in some parts of the country have in the past been accused of bribery and mismanagement of tax collections. Their formation begun in 2005 and some of the functions of the BMUs include monitoring, controlling illegal fishing methods on lakes, propose by-laws for endorsement by district authorities and improve sanitation and hygiene at the landing sites, among other things.
beach management units