EU Calls For Independent Investigation Into Kasese Killings

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In short
The European Union joins US Embassy in Kampala in demanding a probe into the the security forces action during the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu clashes in which Human Rights Watch says 187 people died.

The European Union calls for an independent investigation into the November 2016 killings in Kasese following the security forces raid on the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu installations.
 
The European Union says it believes  failure to fully investigate the killings will perpetuate insecurity, undermine the rule of law and deny the families their right to know the truth.

A statement issued by the EU head of Delegation in Uganda on behalf of its Member States regretted that the Ugandan authorities have not yet launched a comprehensive independent investigation four months after the killings.

"The European Union firmly deplores the attacks perpetrated over the past years against state representatives including police." Reads part of the statement issued on Thursday.
The statement comes days after Human Rights Watch released a report titled "Uganda: Ensure Independent Investigation into Kasese Killings"

The  report raises what the EU described as "serious questions" about disproportional use of force by the security forces, leading to more than 100 civilian casualties, including children.

EU Head of Delegation to Uganda, H.E Ambassador Kristian Schmidt also spoke about the statement from his delegation.

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Human Rights Watch report released on Tuesday said the killings by Ugandan military and police during joint operations in Kasese November 26-27, 2016, warrant an independent, impartial fact-finding mission with international expertise.

Uganda Police had put the death toll during the two days at 87, including 16 police. But Human Rights Watch says it found the actual number to be much higher - at least 55 people, including at least 14 police, killed on November 26, and more than 100, including at least 15 children, during the attack on the palace compound on November 27.

The Police and military Spokespersons during a press conference at the Government Media Centre slammed the Human Rights Report saying it was flawed and inconsistent.

Army Spokesman, Brigadier Richard Karemire told journalists that Human Rights report ignored the casualties from the military side.

The attack on the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzuru was led by Peter Elwelu then at the rank of Brigadier and Commander of UPDF 2nd Division. 

Police Spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kawesi said the shooting of the civilians was lawful given the danger they posed to civilians and the security.

Kawesi and Karamire allegedly claimed that Uganda has no independent investigative capacity into the matter.

But the European Union statement calls call on the competent authorities to immediately conduct the necessary field investigation, ensuring strong witness protection and protection of evidence. The EU promises to support such efforts.

European Union notes that the Government considers the ongoing Court case against the Omusinga to be the appropriate process for delivering justice.
 
It says for justice to be impartial and complete, the conduct of the security forces during the raid on the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu palace should also be subject to scrutiny, with their full cooperation.

The US Embassy in Kampala on Wednesday also issued a statement in a response to the Human Rights Watch Report. The statement said the Embassy takes note of the recently released report by the International NGO Human Rights Watch concerning the November 2016 violence in the Kasese region. "We remain deeply troubled by the disproportionate use of force by security officials in the November 27 raid on the palace of a traditional king, during which scores were killed.  We are particularly concerned by reports that security forces made no effort to remove unarmed people from the compound, which may have contributed to the death of numerous children"  The statement further stated that  " As noted previously, the Embassy urges government to conduct or permit a fair and independent investigation into this incident in the interest of upholding the rule of law. The Ugandan people deserve full and factual accounting of the events in Kasese , which the government has not allowed."


The government after the 26-27 incidents arrested and charged Charles Wesley Mumbere and more than 180 people.

They face murder, treason, and terrorism, among others. Human rights Watch notes that none of the 180 members of the police or military and no one has been charged for the killing of the civilians, including children.