Gov't urged to enforce fisheries law as killings persist in fishing areas

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Gov't urged to enforce fisheries law as killings persist in fishing areas
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Speaker of Parliament Anita Among has called on the government to provide an explanation in Parliament regarding the ongoing killings and human rights violations within fishing communities, despite the enactment of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Act 2022.

Among expressed her concerns after learning about the recent incident where a UPDF Officer named Moses Niwagira allegedly shot and killed Charles Wanya, a fisherman operating on the shores of Lake Kyoga.

She highlighted the need for the government to ensure the enforceability of the law passed in Parliament, as the victims of these crimes are Ugandan citizens who have the power to vote in future elections.

"These incidents of mistreatment and violence are not limited to a single island or fishing area. It is happening in various places, and the government needs to respond accordingly," said Among.

It is worth noting that, despite the responsibility for maintaining law and order within Ugandan waters being assigned to the Uganda Police, the UPDF has maintained a presence on the lakes.

Residents in fishing communities have accused the Army of inhumane treatment and murders against the fishing community.

Government Chief Whip Hamson Obua acknowledged receiving reports of human rights violations in fishing communities by the Fisheries Protection Unit.

He requested that the Speaker allocate time for Hellen Adoa, the Minister of State for Fisheries, to present a comprehensive statement addressing the issues faced by fishing communities across the country.

"I have also come across reports on social media, including from Amolatar district, where a resident was reportedly shot dead by a member of the Fisheries Protection Unit. I kindly request that you provide an opportunity for the Minister in Charge of Fisheries to present a comprehensive statement covering all fishing communities and addressing the incidents that have been reported in the media," said Obua.

on Thursday, fishermen from various islands nationwide appealed to the office of the National Chairman, led by Hadijah Namyalo, requesting a meeting with President Museveni to address their grievances and the challenges that have exacerbated poverty and hindered support for the regime.

During a session held at the ONC offices in Kyambogo, representatives of fishing communities from different islands highlighted several challenges, including, mistreatment by UPDF officers, the influx of substandard fishing equipment, widespread poverty, and burdensome taxes on essential fishing gear, all of which have severely impacted their livelihoods.

Under the umbrella of the Uganda Fish and Lake Users Association, fish dealers, led by Godfry Kambugu Ssenyonga, voiced their concerns about various issues affecting the industry, such as the importation of substandard fishing gear, prevailing poverty, and excessive taxes on essential equipment.

Ssenyonga expressed their desire to engage directly with President Museveni to present their grievances in person. In addition, they criticized the performance of the NRM party in the recent elections, citing unresolved issues that have left them dissatisfied.

Ssenyonga also highlighted the persistence of illegal fishing despite the presence of the army, which has negatively impacted their businesses and led to increased youth unemployment.

Namyalo acknowledged the decline in party support and recognized the high levels of youth unemployment within the fishing sector.

She pledged to deliver their petition to President Museveni and emphasized his crucial role in addressing their grievances. Furthermore, she outlined strategies aimed at strengthening support for the party among these communities.

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