Human Rights Activist assaulted in the presence of local police in Uganda

February 2, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

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By

Robert Ssewankambo

Gerald Kankya, an activist working with the Twerwaneho Listeners’ Club (TLC), a community based governance organisation in Western Uganda, was allegedly attacked, assaulted and battered by approximately thirty club wielding men along Lugard Road in the town of Fort Portal on the afternoon of 23rdJanuary 2015.

Kankya, a European Union Human Rights activist Award winner for 2011, told media that as he returned from a lunch break with two other friends, a gang of men, clad in ‘Queen Mother Best Kemigisa Nursery, Primary and Vocational Schools’ traffic reflector jackets, accosted them in the presence and on orders of the Fort Portal District Police commander Geoffrey Kahebwa and another police officer identified as Rwatooro.

“We tried to run towards the Voice of Tooro radio station thinking that the presence of many people would prevent the men from attacking us. Before we could move inside the radio station, the gang of men grabbed me, hit me with their clubs, some boxed me, repeatedly kicked me, and attempted to grab a file I had in my hand which contained a number of TLC documents. During the scuffle, all my colleagues were too scared and ran away leaving me on the ground swarmed by the gang of men. The people around responded by attempting to attack the men who had hit me several times.”

Kankya told media that he sustained bruises and a loose tooth. He reported the matter to the police at Fort Portal and was then given a police medical form to take to a government regional hospital for examination and medication. On returning the form to police, the officers refused to record his statement claiming they were under strict orders from the District Police Commander not to record a statement from him or anyone from TLC on charges related to assault.

When journalists from Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda contacted Commander Kahebwa, he denied being involved, “Did Kankya say that I beat him up? If he was beaten by police officers, I am responsible, but if he was beaten by his fellow thugs and fools like him, then I am not accountable. In fact he is the one who beat up people because we have assault complaints against him”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Robert Ssewankambo

Robert Ssewankambo is a Ugandan writer. Working currently on a freelance basis, he is a regular contributor to major newspapers in Uganda and electronic online magazines and media sources in Africa, such as the Bukedde newspaper, Hindered radio, Red Pepper, Eddobozzi newspaper and African Interest online.

For media enquiries, contact Robert at the following email address: sewankamborobert@gmail.com

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