Hivos East Africa condemns extrajudicial killing of Ugandan human rights activist

July 12, 2017

Hivos East Africa has received reports about the extra judicial killing of Mr. Erasmus Irumba, Coordinator of the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC). TLC is an NGO based in the Rwenzori region of western Uganda. It promotes human rights advocacy through weekly radio programmes on human rights education and social accountability. Erasmus’ day to day work at TLC involved monitoring the delivery of public services in Butungama, Bweramule and Rwebisengo sub-counties and investigation on the use of public funds in health services.

According to the reports, on 23 June 2017, at around 7:30 pm, Mr. Irumba was summoned to meet and discuss issues of “public importance” with Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) senior officials at Butungama trading center in the province of Ntoroko. During the meeting, Erasmus and another community member, Mr. Siet Kanyoro who was accompanying him, were shot in the leg in an altercation that has thus far been presented as arising from his attempt to resist arrest. Whilst still alive but severely bleeding, the two were put in the boot of a private car, driven to a rural area and shot dead at close range.

Reports further indicate that the Ntoroko District Commander, Gerald Atuhaire and the District Internal Security Officer, Elidard Brian Babishanga and police officers Abdul Kyarimpa, Ivan Bakasaba and Irema Saulo Balimpa have been charged in court with murder and aggravated robbery and later detained. However, the UPDF soldiers who actually conducted the shooting are yet to be arrested.  

Hivos is greatly concerned that this is a clear case of extra judicial killing and a violation of   Article 4 and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, of Article 3 of Uganda’s Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, which prohibits extra-judicial killings by security forces, and of Section 22 of the Ugandan Constitution, which protects the sanctity of life. We are equally concerned about the increasing cases of attacks and killings targeting human rights defenders in Uganda.

We therefore strongly urge the Ugandan authorities, in particular Mr. William Byaruhanga, Attorney General, and Hon. Kahinda Otafiire, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Uganda; Mr. Mike Chibita, Director of Public Prosecutions, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Uganda; Ms. General Jeje Odongo, Minister of Internal Affairs of Uganda and Gen. Kale Kayihura, Inspector General of Police, to ensure there is  timely, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation into the murders. The officers responsible must be held accountable, regardless of their rank or branch of service, and justice for the victims must be truly done and not only seen to be done!