The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has accused opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) of using the “narrative” of missing persons to gain political capital.
For the past two or so years, the biggest political party has accused government through security organs of abducting some of its supporters.
The opposition party claims that the ruling government has continued to persecute opposition supporters with abduction as one of the methods used for persecution.
Addressing journalists on Thursday, UHRC chairperson, Mariam Wangadya said following the reports of missing supporters, they wrote to the NUP Secretary General, a copy of the letter they sent to the party president Robert Kyagulanyi to provide details of the missing persons.
“They provided particulars for 25 people but not the thousands they have been talking about that are missing. The particulars we requested for included their photographs, date when they are said to have gone missing and the contacts of their next of kin.What was missing glaringly were the national identification numbers. They provided for only one person,” Wangadya said.
Wangadya said that the rights body commenced investigations by contacting with the next of kin of the missing persons in a bid to obtain information regarding circumstances under which they went missing.
The right body chairperson however noted that they were only to find information regarding seven people.
“From our investigation so far, we have established that out of the 25 person provided, seven were arrested but released in December last year and have since reunited with their families. These seven can’t be said to be missing. Out of the seven, three were charged with murder.”
According to Wangadya, the bodyguard to NUP president, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine , Jamshid Kavuma was among the seven who were missing.
She however warned that it is not fair for the opposition party to demonize the rights body over the missing supporters.
“It is unfair that the NUP keeps continuing alleging that UHRC has done nothing to this information they have provided. The commission should be commended that within a short time we have moved this far in the investigations rather than criticizing us unfairly.”
Gaining political capital
The rights body chairperson accused the opposition NUP party of being part of the growing trend by politicians to use non-existent abductions as a political mobilization tool.
“ I would rather the NUP and other political actors share with the public the better programs they have. They should tell Ugandans what they can do better than their competitors rather than use fake victimhood to attract political support and sustain it. UHRC will not be party to any agenda to use fake victimhood to sustain political support.”
NUP fires back
When contacted for a comment, NUP spokesperson, Joel Ssenyonyi rubbished the allegations by Wangadya as childish.
“I think Mariam Wangadya has a major problem. We have submitted several lists to them, and they never take action. One time she even said that people are brutalised because they are provocative…and this is supposed to be the head of our human rights commission,”Ssenyonyi wondered.
On the allegation of gaining political capital out of the missing persons, Ssenyonyi said, “This is utter nonsense, if they don’t want us to talk about missing people, let them stop abducting them!”