Human Right Watch has called upon the government of Uganda to ensure the independent investigation into killings by Ugandan military and police during joint operations in Kasese, western Uganda on November 26-27, 2016.
“The killings warrant an independent, impartial fact-finding mission with international expertise,” Human Rights Watch said, adding that on the bloodiest day, scores of people, including children, were killed during a military assault on the palace compound of the region’s cultural institution.
Police spokespeople reported the death toll over the two days as 87, including 16 police. Human Rights Watch 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 government has arrested and charged more than 180 people, including the cultural institution’s king, known as the Omusinga, with murder, treason, and terrorism, among other charges. None of the 180 are members of the police or military and no one has been charged for the killing of the civilians, including children.
“The assault on the palace in Kasese, which killed more people than any single event since the height of the war in Northern Uganda over a decade ago, should not be swept under the carpet,” said Maria Burnett, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “People in Kasese are still looking for their family members, including children, and they deserve answers and justice for these gruesome killings.”
In a telephone interview on February 24, 2017, Uganda’s military spokesman, Brig. Richard Karemire, told Human Rights Watch that there has been no investigation into the military’s conduct and that none is planned. The government is under an obligation to investigate any operation where there is such loss of life and should do so promptly. But given limited prospects for a credible follow up by domestic authorities, an independent, impartial investigation, with international expertise, should be urgently conducted, Human Rights Watch said.